On the day he died, John Esposito admitted for the first time that he inappropriately touched Katie Beers when he abducted her two decades ago, according to a transcript of his parole hearing released Wednesday.
When asked in his Sept. 4 parole board interview if he touched Beers "in inappropriate ways," Esposito, 64, said: "I'll be honest . . . When I was convicted, my attorney said don't admit to anything but to kidnapping. Now I realize that was a mistake. I shouldn't have listened to him, so, yes, I did touch her. I never said it before."
In response to parole board Commissioner Joseph P. Crangle's comment "You're finally confessing up to more," Esposito said, "Yes."
Beers, 30, now married and living in Pennsylvania with two young children, said in an emailed statement, "While I am happy that John Esposito has finally admitted to touching me inappropriately, I am saddened by the fact that even after 20 years, he is still minimizing what he put me through."
In his 1994 plea bargain, Esposito pleaded guilty to the 1992 kidnapping but not rape in exchange for a sentence of 15 years to life. Prosecutors had contended that Esposito sexually abused Beers, then 10, repeatedly during her 16 days of captivity in a bunker at his Bay Shore home.
Asked Wednesday about Esposito's admission, his defense attorney, Andrew B. Siben of Bay Shore, said it would be improper to comment.
In response to a question asking why he did such a "brutal" thing -- keeping Beers in a bunker -- Esposito said "it started getting very bad" for her at her home. "She was being treated bad and sometimes I would go over there and she would be crying, and I planned to take her away from that and raise her."
Esposito never knew the outcome of his interview -- that parole was denied, state Department of Corrections officials said.
Inmates usually receive written decisions several days after their parole interviews, said Linda Foglia, spokeswoman.
"You demonstrated a total disregard for the rules of society and welfare of another human being," the parole decision said.
Esposito would have had his next appearance before the parole board in September 2015, the decision said.
The day after his death of natural causes at Sing Sing prison, where he served 19 years of a 15 years-to-life sentence, Beers, said she had steeled herself for years for either his release or his death behind bars.
"I have no emotion, except I can close that chapter in my life," said Beers.
Beers this year released a book, "Buried Memories."
Toward the end of the parole board interview, Esposito read a statement: "I'm very sorry for the shameful thing I did."
He later added, "I know what I did was wrong, but I wasn't brutal, I didn't beat her up or hurt her, that's all."
Crangle said in response, "Sir, you left her in a bunker, 10 years old. I have a 10-year-old at home and he still has the light on in his bedroom."Crangle told Esposito he would be informed in writing of the parole board's decision. Later that day, Esposito was found dead in his cell.