By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — A trial begins today for a man accused of raping a 15-year-old girl on March 23, 2012.
Joseph A. Esparza, 49, of Anderson, faces two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, both Class B felonies. According to court records, the trial starts in the morning with jury selection in Judge Dennis Carroll’s Madison Circuit Court 6.
Esparza eluded law enforcement in Madison County and U.S. marshals for nearly for months before being arrested Dec. 8, 2012. According to Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson, Esparza fled authorities in Madison County after a warrant for his arrest was filed on Aug. 17, 2012. Esparza was tracked to California, Las Vegas and Nashville before marshals arrested him, Richardson said.
The charges stem from an incident on March 23 when Esparza allegedly raped a 15-year-old in his home in the 400 block of North County Road 650 West, Anderson, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Esparza was at the house with his girlfriend, five family members and friends and the alleged victim, each of whom had differing and contradicting stories about the incident in interviews with detectives, according to the affidavit. In a later interview, one of the friends of the teenage girl admitted to lying to police, and a warrant was issued for Esparza’s arrest, according to the affidavit.
“There was believed to be an understanding between Esparza and his lawyer that if a warrant was issued, he’d turn himself in,” Richardson said. “When it was issued, we found out he had run.”
According to court records, Esparza won’t face any additional charges for attempting to flee from authorities.
Records also indicate that Esparza, who is being represented by Anderson attorney Zaki Ali, has been out of jail on a $100,000 bond since May 8 and is subject to an order of no contact with the victim.
The case has been delayed because of court congestion and several health issues with Esparza. A request to leave the state to attend a memorial service in California was also denied by Carroll on Aug. 28.
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