The Gainesville Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of the highly unsettling nature of reports regarding the recent arrests of an Alachua County School teacher, and part-time swim coach. Most disturbing is the extensive access that the accused had to children, given the positions he held. The alleged perpetrator, according to media reports and county court records, is 31-year-old Joseph Michael Diaz, of 3003 NW 30th Terrace.
News of Diaz’s alleged sexual crimes first surfaced following his arrest on Thursday, April 24, 2014, for charges involving directing the sexual performance of a child and possession of child pornography. The victim described to authorities events in which he was coerced into using Diaz’s telephone to take inappropriate videos and photographs of himself. Diaz was booked into Alachua County Jail Thursday afternoon, but was able to post $65,000 bond, and was subsequently released early Friday morning.
Approximately 10 hours after his release, Diaz was rearrested, on a capital felony charge, extending from allegations that Diaz had molested another child, even younger than the first victim, and over a 3-year period. According to Alachua County Court Records, Diaz was still in custody as of Wednesday, April 30th.
As Personal Injury Attorneys, we recognize that differentiating between the multitudes of potential sexual offenses involving children, can be challenging for many, because most are unfamiliar with complex legal terminology. It is precisely this reason why media reports will often summarize, abbreviate, utilize alternate terminology, or otherwise incorporate language which the average person could easily use to identify or associate the accused’s conduct with a particular crime.
Unfortunately, the ‘ease of understanding’ method generally used by the media, can often lead to public confusion regarding the severity of a sexual offense. While some sexual offenses may be depicted as less serious in nature, in other cases, the reverse may occur. Most concerning, are the incidents that are not conveyed to the public in a manner that adequately communicates the seriousness of the offense. The following is an overview of the charges Diaz is accused of:
Charges extending by reports from the FIRST victim fall under Florida Statute 827.071, titled “sexual performance by a child; penalties.” Diaz was arrested under sections 827.071(3) and 827.071(5)(a) of this statute, which provide:
(3) A person is guilty of promoting a sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he or she produces, directs, or promotes any performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than 18 years of age. Whoever violates this subsection is guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(5)(a) It is unlawful for any person to knowingly possess, control, or intentionally view a photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, he or she knows to include any sexual conduct by a child. The possession, control, or intentional viewing of each such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or presentation is a separate offense. If such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation includes sexual conduct by more than one child, then each such child in each such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation that is knowingly possessed, controlled, or intentionally viewed is a separate offense. A person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
In interpreting the words and language provided in the statutes, the following definitions apply:
“Intentionally view” means to deliberately, purposefully, and voluntarily view. Proof of intentional viewing requires establishing more than a single image, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or other presentation over any period of time.
“Promote” means to procure, manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmute, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise or to offer or agree to do the same.
“Sexual conduct” means actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or sadomasochistic abuse; actual lewd exhibition of the genitals; actual physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is a female, breast, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either party; or any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed. A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance constitute “sexual conduct.”
“Sexual performance” means any performance or part thereof which includes sexual conduct by a child of less than 18 years of age.
Charges extending from reports by the SECOND victim fall under Florida Statute 794.011, titled “Sexual Battery.” Specifically, Diaz was arrested on charges of violating section 794.011(2)a), which provides:
(2)(a) A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a capital felony, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 921.141.
In interpreting the words and language provided in the statutes, the following definition applies:
“Sexual battery” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual battery does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.
While one incident involved contact (younger victim), and the other did not (older victim), certainly the conduct alleged in both offenses are equally reprehensible. If your child was the victim of sexual abuse, it is important to know that in addition to criminal charges, legal recourse may be available through additional means, such as initiating a child sexual abuse civil action to recover damages for the abuse.
The Gainesville injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile want to help you and your family obtain the compensation deserved. Our legal team has extensive experience in handling cases of this nature and will strive to obtain the compensation any child victim deserves to allow them to recover and move on with their life.