Huntington Beach

Molest suspect is arrested

A SUSPECT has been arrested in connection with a variety of sex crimes involving children (Shutterstock).

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 was scheduled to be arraigned at the Stephen K. Tamura Justice Center in Westminster in Department.

SUSPECT JASON VALENTINE ESPARZA. At left is 2020 DMV photo; at right is 2023 booking photo (HBPD).

The Huntington Beach Police Department began investigating Esparza after receiving an anonymous cyber-tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children 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 was arrested by undercover detectives when he entered the room.

“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).

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