A former middle school janitor was sentenced to 55 years in prison after Denton County jurors found him guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony.
Denton resident Ambrocio Mata, 63, was convicted of having sexual contact with a 12-year-old boy at Calhoun Middle School on Oct. 22, 2012, while he was working as a janitor there.
First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck said prosecutors are glad the jury in 362nd District Judge Bruce McFarling’s court last week made sure that Mata would never be around children again.
“We send our children off to school each day hoping and praying they are in a safe environment,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “Mr. Mata trampled all over that trust.”
Defense attorney Derek Adame said the jury took its time to reach the decision and he respects the members’ decision, considering the amount of evidence brought forth during the trial.
An arrest affidavit obtained from the Denton Police Department last November stated that another custodian caught Mata and the student “standing very close to each other,” and that further details were discovered through surveillance camera footage.
Dan Leal, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, said that more than 90 percent of the cases the organization handles are sexual abuse cases. Of the cases the center is involved in, he said an average of about 18 cases will go to trial, an increase of about 30 percent in the last few years.
“We handle many more cases, but those get resolved in plea bargains,” he said.
Leal said state legislation that was passed a few years ago has been the reason more sexual predators are going to trial.
“The minimum sentence for some cases is now 25 years, so they [the accused] figure they have nothing to lose and take their case to trial to hopefully avoid the long sentence,” Leal said.
He praised everyone involved with the case for a thorough investigation.
Mata joined the Denton school district’s custodial staff in 2005, according to district officials. He was terminated after his arrest in 2012.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.