Crime

Florida man accused of sexually abusing foster child dies in apparent suicide

Child sexual abuse statistics in the United States

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
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One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

A North Port man who was standing trial on allegations that he sexually abused one of his foster children was found dead Thursday morning near his home in an apparent suicide, according to prosecutors.

A North Port man who was standing trial om charges he sexually abused one of his foster children was found dead Thursday morning near his home in an apparent suicide, according to prosecutors.

Gilberto Rios, who turned 64 Monday, was charged with one count of sexual battery of a child less than 12 years of age. The trial got underway on Monday and closing arguments were set to begin on Thursday morning.

But Circuit Judge Charles Roberts declared a mistrial on Thursday after learning that Rios had been found dead by police earlier that morning. Rios was out on a $200,000 bond while the case was pending.

“It’s a terrible tragedy for his family and those closet to him. But it’s his actions that put him on trial for capital sexual battery and it was his decision to take his own life,” said a statement from assistant state attorneys Ryan Felix and Brooke Kernan. “We have zero doubt that he’s guilty of sexually abusing these children. Both of these young girls showed great courage in testifying against their abuser at trial.”

Just after 6 a.m., North Port police were called to the 7200 block of Beckwith Avenue to reports of an unattended death, according to posts on their social media accounts. The death appeared to be suicide, police said, and was within two blocks of the defendant’s home.

Rios was arrested a year ago after the allegations of the one victim came to light. The girl revealed that when she was about 3 years old, sometime in 2015, Rios had forced her to perform oral sex on him.

While Rios was only facing the one charge, detectives learned of a second allegation of sexual abuse involving another one of his foster daughters prior to his arrest.

Both girls took the stand, detailing for the jury in front of Rios, how he sexually abused them and told them not to say anything. The first girl testified Tuesday that Rios told her that if she didn’t do what he said she wouldn’t be adopted. On Wednesday, the second girl said Rios told her that if she didn’t comply with his demands she would go to jail.

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