SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A former pastor was sentenced to life in prison by a Sarasota County judge last week.

Bicente Velasquez Morales was arrested in July of 2019 after a mother told Manatee County Children’s Services her 6-year-old daughter was being sexually abused by a family member.

Detectives learned her Morales, who was 43 at the time of his arrest, sexually battered her on multiple occasions.

Morales was charged with sexual battery of a child and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child less than 12 years of age. A Sarasota judge sentenced him to life in prison on April 19.

The Sarasota Police Department announced Morales’ sentencing alongside three other men who were recently convicted of sexually abusing children. His case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Kate Metz and William Greiner.

“In each of these cases, the victims who were and still are minors had the courage to come forward to a family member for help, which launched the investigations at the Sarasota Police Department,” said Sarasota police detective Llovio. “The victims then had the courage to stand and testify against their abusers. There are no words to describe the courage of these young people who had to relive their worst nightmare in that courtroom. This is the definition of bravery.”

There are 3,200 reports of child abuse in Sarasota and DeSoto counties each year, according to the Child Protection Center of Sarasota and DeSoto counties.