Broward County

Former South Broward High School band director ‘does not regret’ sex with student

Ricardo Esquilin
Ricardo Esquilin Broward Sheriff's Office

South Broward High School’s former band director began a sexual relationship with a student after acting as a sounding board during her breakup with another teenager, the student told police.

And that former band director told police he doesn’t regret it.

Regret or not, 28-year-old Ricardo Esquilin faces a charge of sexual assault by a custodian-sexual battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 18. “By a custodian,” means the victim was under his care at the time, the common designation for teachers accused of having sex with students.

Esquilin, a South Broward alumnus, started as a music band teacher at the school in August 2017. A band student e-mailed the Herald Wednesday night that after Esquilin resigned during winter break, no reason was given. He resigned Jan. 5, officially for “personal reasons.”

The reason was an investigation that began New Year’s Eve, when Hollywood police talked with the student.

On Jan. 4, the student told Esquilin during a phone call that her mother had found incriminating text messages and a condom.

Police were with the student and listening to the call.

“Defendant Esquilin repeatedly apologized for not being strong enough and for being weak,” the probable cause affidavit said. “Victim One apologized for being honest and told him she doesn’t want him to be arrested. Defendant Esquilin stated, ‘It doesn’t matter what your mother wants, to press charges or not, it still happened’ and ‘It has nothing to do with plans, it’s the law.’”

The student said she and Esquilin began “talking with her as a mentor and consoling her during her break up with her boyfriend. ‘Mr. E’ would take her off campus to go get ice cream and they would talk. ‘Mr. E’ encouraged her to not allow their relationship to influence her decision about her relationship with her boyfriend.”

After that relationship ended in mid-November 2018, she and Esquilin’s sexual relationship began. The affidavit says both recall it starting inside his car at the Swap Shop drive-in, while “Fantastic Beast 2” played on the screen.

“I really wanted to watch it,” Esquilin, the adult, told police. “But she was very flirtatious and she grabbed me and we didn’t stop.”

They later had sex at each of their homes, the student said, and about six times in the band room at South Broward High School.

Eventually, she said, Esquilin gave her Plan B birth control pills.

Despite his self-blame during the phone call with the student, the affidavit says Esquilin bounced between that and pointing to the student as the ignition for their sex.

Explaining his use of the Plan B pills, the affidavit quotes him as saying “This happened more than once, being in the situation of me not having a condom and her wanting to do more. I was very weak in not being able to stop.”

Det. Debra Levy wrote, “When I told Defendant Esquilin (the student) stated they have a lot of sex and needed to slow down, he replied, “She initiates a lot of it.”

Levy wrote she asked Esquilin how he feels about the whole situation.

“The Defendant replied he misses his father, who passed away in May, and is worried about his mom,” Levy wrote.

“He knows it was wrong and there most likely will be consequences, however, he does not regret being in a relationship with his student.”

According to his LinkedIn page, Esquilin has been with Broward County Public Schools since August 2017, a few months after getting his master’s degree in music from Florida State University. While at Florida State, he was in and then an assistant director of Disney’s All-American College Band.

But the longest association Esquilin claims is with the Miami Heat’s Street Band — 10 years playing in the band, starting in 2006; two years as assistant director and musical director since May 2018.

A yearlong investigation by The Associated Press finds roughly 17,000 official reports of sexual assaults by students in K-12 schools over a four-year period. The numbers are the most complete tally among the nation's 50 million K-12 students.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.