Mario J. Flores, 44, Archbold, will serve nine months in prison on two counts of sexual battery, as part of a revised plea bargain agreement.
Appear- ing in Fulton County Common Pleas Court, Wednesday, Oct. 27, Flores tearfully told his victim, who was an underage girl when the offenses occurred, that he gained her trust and lost it.
“For that, I am sorry,” he said.
He apologized to her family and his family.
“I have ruined your life. I have ruined my life,” he told the victim.
The Archbold Buckeye
does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Flores initially entered guilty pleas to two counts of sexual battery as part of what Paul Kennedy, assistant Fulton County prosecuting attorney, called an informal agreement with James Barber, Fulton County Common Pleas Court judge, on Tuesday, Oct. 12. He was scheduled to go before a jury that day.
Flores was to appear before Barber for sentencing at 3 pm, Wednesday, Oct. 27.
However, at 3 pm, both sides appeared to be involved in negotiations, which lasted until about 4:30 pm.
During the sentencing hearing, Tom Molitierno, Fayette, Flores’ attorney, said his client was withdrawing the Oct. 12 guilty pleas and entering new guilty pleas, which were also part of a plea deal.
Flores entered a guilty plea to count one of the 14- count indictment handed down against him by the Fulton County Grand Jury.
Count one states on or about Dec. 6, 2008, Flores “did engage in sexual conduct with another… when the other person was a minor, and the said Mario J. Flores was the other person’s athletic or other type of coach, was the other person’s instructor, was the leader of a scouting troop of which the other person was a member, or was a person with temporary or occasional disciplinary control over the other person.”
The crime is a violation of Ohio Revised Code section 2907.03(A)(9).
He also entered a guilty plea to count three of the indictment.
Count three states that on or about Jan. 15, 2009, Flores “did engage in sexual conduct with another… when the said Mario J. Flores was a teacher, administrator, coach, or other person in authority employed by, or serving in, a school… the other person was enrolled in or attended that school, and the said Mario J. Flores was not enrolled in, and did not attend that school.”
The crime is a violation of Ohio Revised Code section 2907.03(A)(7).
The other 12 counts against Flores were dismissed.
As per the plea agreement, Barber sentenced Flores to four years in prison on each count, to be served concurrently.
Barber said Flores will be granted judicial release after serving nine months in prison.
Including the four months he has already served at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Flores will spend a total of 13 months incarcerated.
Upon release, Flores will be placed under community control for a period of five years.
He is also classified as a Tier III sex offender, and must register his address with the sheriff of the county in which he resides every 90 days for the rest of his life. He must also pay the costs of prosecution and attorney fees.
Prior to sentencing, Molitierno told Barber that Flores had no prior problems with the law, and had done a lot of community service work with young people.
“Until this happened, he helped a lot of boys and girls become better athletes and better people,” Molitierno said.
Molitierno said Flores knows what needs to be done “to get back on the right path.
“He knows he’s hurt people. He knows he’s disappointed people.
“His wife has filed for divorce. He’s lost his job; he’s lost his reputation. He will never have the ability to work with youth again, something that was important in his life.”
At times raising his voice, the victim’s father said he and his wife trusted Flores, then a 43-year-old husband, father of three, including one daughter, community and church youth leader, with their precious daughter, with whom Flores then committed “the most repulsive, despicable, disgusting crime.”
He credited his daughter for speaking out, a move that required courage.
First, he said, she had to tell her own parents about what happened. She then had to describe it again, this time to the Archbold police, then again in a three-hour interview with the prosecuting attorney.
Then, the father said, his daughter was ready to perform another act of courage, testifying at Flores’ trial.
The father said studies show that 50% to 70% of underage sexual abuse victims are unable to report the crime against them– but his daughter had the courage to stand up.
The father told Barber he could “send a message that this court will not tolerate this kind of abuse.”
Speaking in court, the victim said Flores had manipulated and exploited her, and made her feel okay about their sexual relationship.
He was an adult, she said, who forced her into an adult situation.
She alleged that there were other victims, and called on those victims to speak out. If someone had, she said, she wouldn’t have been put through the experience.
She said she was proud of herself for breaking the silence of sexual abuse.
“Take this burden. It is yours,” she said. “I’m going to do all I can so this doesn’t happen to another young person.”
Once the victim finished her statement, Barber was silent for a moment.
He told Flores he had used the victim’s faith against her, and had taken advantage of his position of authority over the victim.
Barber cited Flores’ extensive involvement with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth for Christ, and the Ridge Project, but said as a result of this case, everything Flores had done is suspect.
“You put a blemish on a lot of good you have done in the past,” Barber told Flores.
As part of the sentence, Barber told Flores to have no contact with the victim.
“But what if she contacts me?” Flores asked.
“I don’t want to hear from you right now,” Barber told Flores sternly.
“If she contacts you, ignore her.”