Man sentenced to 50 years for child abuse

BROWNSVILLE — After 10 years on the run in Mexico, a man was arrested and then sentenced to 50 years at the Texas Department of Corrections last week.

Francisco Ibarra, 50, was sentenced for the offense of sexual abuse of a child.

“The initial outcry was made by one of the victims on a drive home with her family after an evening at the movie theater,” Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said in a Facebook post.

“One of the girls asked her mother to lower the radio because she had something to say. Filled with fright and tears, she made the outcry of the sexual abuse.”

Shortly after, another relative came forward with a similar story. When Ibarra was confronted with the allegations, he escaped to Mexico before authorities could arrest him.

“These two children were robbed of their innocence and their childhood by someone whom they trusted, someone who was supposed to protect them,” Saenz said in his post.

Saenz called child abuse cases a top priority for his office. Unfortunately, he said, it seems that just as one case is closed another pops up. He estimates at least two cases per month come to the office.

“We’ve gotten many lengthy sentences. Fifty-year sentences feel good, but there seems to be no end to these cases. No sooner than we get a conviction, lo and behold, two weeks from now we get another case,” Saenz said.

Fighting for justice in the courtroom is one part of the battle, but the other is raising awareness and making an environment where victims feel they can come forward, he said.

“That’s the silver lining in the dark cloud. The silver lining is that we are working together with the advocacy centers and all police partners, and we’ve raised awareness about these types of cases whereby children feel more comfortable in making the outcrys,” Saenz said.

“But the dark cloud is that awareness has really brought to the forefront the number of cases there are.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Rodrigues and Child Abuse Unit Supervisor ADA Brandy Bailey.

Saenz commended the child abuse unit for its hard work in the case.

“These cases are very, very difficult. I’ve often told (Bailey) that I would much rather try a murder case than a child abuse case. They take a lot out of you,” Saenz said.

“You’re always second-guessing yourself, and what are you going to tell the 5-year-old or 8-year-old if you don’t get the right verdict?”