MARTINEZ -- A Bethel Island contractor was sentenced Friday to 350 years to life in prison for molesting his friends' children and his children's friends.

A Contra Costa County jury convicted Joseph Rouse, 40, in September of 22 felonies for sex crimes against four girls, ages 8-13, and an 11-year-old boy in Bethel Island and Oakley in 2011 and 2012.

During a lengthy speech that drove his victims' families out of the courtroom, Rouse said he was innocent and extolled his own virtues as a father, friend and person. The children he's convicted of harming acted inappropriately to him, he said. He claimed that the mothers of two of the victims had crushes on him akin to the movie "Fatal Attraction."

"I was nice to them, that's all," Rouse said. "I'm not the sicko the (district attorney) labeled me while screaming I'm guilty, which I thought was very biased.

"They say that nice guys finish last," Rouse said. "Well, I'm living proof of that."

Parents of the victims said Rouse groomed them for the abuse as much as he groomed their children. They said that they, as families, are working to move past the abuse and betrayal.

"No one in our family -- parents and children -- will let this define us," said the mother of two of the victims.

"Shame on you, Joe," one father shouted out of turn before stomping out of the courtroom.


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Several Rouse supporters told the court that they remain shocked by the allegations against him and believe in his innocence. They said they trusted Rouse to watch their daughters when they were young, and he never did anything to harm them.

His 15-year-old daughter described him as a thoughtful, caring, respectful man who doesn't deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"He's my rock and when I got told he was taken away, it was like my life was over," she said. "You all see him as a monster. It kills me inside that anyone could say that about him."

Judge John Kennedy described Rouse as a relentless pedophile who showed a callous disregard for the harm he was causing.

"He's blaming the children for the fact that he chose to molest them," Kennedy said. "The level of narcissism I've heard in this courtroom today is outstanding."

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.