SANTA ANA, Calif. – Authorities are asking for the public’s help in identifying additional child victims of a man accused of grooming women to babysit children as young as four years old and bring them to hotels so that he could molest them. The sexual assaults on young children are suspected to have occurred over several decades.
Jason Valentine Esparza, 57, has been charged with three felony counts of attempted oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child 10 years old or younger and two felony counts of attempted forcible lewd act on a child under the age of 14. He faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months if convicted on all counts.
He is currently being held at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange in lieu of $1 million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 28, 2023 at the Stephen K. Tamura Justice Center in Westminster in Department W12.
The Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) began investigating Esparza after receiving an anonymous cyber-tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program in September 2022.
During the eight-month investigation, HBPD Crimes Against Persons Unit detectives began communicating with Esparza while posing as an adult female who was babysitting a four-year-old girl. During those communications, Esparza is accused of expressing his desire to perform very specific sexual acts on the child.
On April 7, 2023, Esparza was told that the child was at a Huntington Beach hotel room and he arrested by undercover detectives when he entered the room.
“Someone who preys on the innocence of children for their own sexual gratification is a monster of indescribable evil,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “To plot, to calculate, and methodically carry out sexual attacks on unconscious children is something that can only be dreamt of and carried out by the sickest of minds. Children rely on adults for their safety and security and as prosecutors we do everything we can to protect our children from adults who would harm them and ensure these monsters will never be able to harm another child again.”
“After overcoming many investigative hurdles during this multiple-month investigation, Huntington Beach detectives were able to take a sexual predator off the streets,” said Huntington Beach Chief of Police Eric Parra. “This case demonstrates our detective bureau’s tenacity, determination, and commitment to never stop working to seek justice for those who have been victimized. We will continue to investigate anyone who harms the most vulnerable in our society.”
Esparza, who is originally from Warren, Ohio, also has connections to Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Fullerton. Anyone with information relating to Esparza is asked to call the Huntington Beach Police Department WeTip Hotline at (714) 375-5066. Anonymous tips can also be made to OC Crime Stoppers by calling (855) TIP-OCCS (1-855-847-6227).
Deputy District Attorney Devin Crowley of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.