Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sex abuse victim moving on decade later

Updated: Saturday, 13 Nov 2010, 10:19 PM CST
Published : Saturday, 13 Nov 2010, 6:42 PM CST

MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) - Frank Marquez Jr., 26, has what some people might feel is an ideal life.

He owns a nice home on a quaint street just blocks from Downtown Marble Falls and has his gorgeous fiancee, Casey, at his side.

Growing his own business, Marquez is now focusing on his future after facing a dark part of his past last month in a Burnet County courtroom.

"He was doing things to me with his hands," explained Marquez.? "He asked me to touch him down there."

Marquez was sexually assaulted by his uncle, Michael Ribera, now 49, three times, starting when he was just 9-years-old.? It also happened when he was 10 and again when he was 12.

"At first around 9 or 10, I was kind of confused.? I thought he was just trying to be polite in things he was asking me to do or doing to me," Marquez said.

At the time, Ribera was on probation for sexual indecency with another boy.

That boy was 13-years-old.

Marquez told KXAN his uncle fondled him and as the years went on the abuse grew more intense, leading to rape.

"I was like, 'No.' He was like, 'Come on, it is ok, it is ok.' And, at that time, he had his pants down," Marquez recalled.

Confused and uneducated about sexual assault, Marquez kept quiet for almost a decade.

"It kind of scared me, embarrassed me. So, I kind of just got out of the bed and left, just like I was confused," Marquez added.? "I didn't want to create any kind of hate or separation in my family. So, I just kept quiet.? I just put it in the back of my mind like nothing happened."

He did, however, tell a counselor.

Still, carrying the secret took its toll.

From the outside, he appeared normal at family gatherings and high school football games.

Mentally, Marquez was markedly different.

"My mom, and I will never forget these quotes until the day I die, said, 'Frankie, you used to be so loving and caring,'" Marquez recalled.

Frank said he started to resent his parents.

He thought his counselor had told them about the assaults and they were choosing not to do anything about it.

His parents, however, didn't know.

In 2008, Marquez confronted his father.? He said when his father found out the truth, he immediately called the police.

"Mentally, it takes a toll," Marquez said.

Ribera was arrested and charged with indecency and aggravated assault of a child.

Last month, he took a plea deal and instead of serving any time in jail, he got ten years deferred adjudication, must update his sex offender registry and will have to pay $20,000 in fines.

"It was a huge relief, it was done. I didn't have to deal with it again," Marquez explained.

Marquez told KXAN his uncle has never apologized to him, but did look "ashamed" in court when Marquez read his victim impact statement.

Since Ribera's conviction, Marquez has seen his uncle around town.? He wanted to see his uncle behind bars.

"It makes me angry to see this man walking the streets," Marquez said.

Marquez is thankful he fianlly got justice, but admits it came with a cost.

His once close-knit family is now torn apart.?

"At Christmas and Thanksgiving, there used to be 30 people getting together, now there is just ten hanging out," Marquez explained.

Marquez said he does not regret coming forward and his future goal is to educate young children about sexual assault and encourage parents to have open conversations on the topic with their kids.

Ribera is now running a taco stand that's near two schools in Marble Falls.


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