Former Granby cop found guilty in teen ‘sexting’ case
Grand County, CO Colorado
HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS – A former Granby Police Officer who engaged in a texting relationship with a 16-year-old Middle Park High School student has been found guilty on four counts of sexual exploitation of a child.
The jury delivered its verdict Thursday after about two hours of deliberation, following a four-day trial in the District Court at Hot Sulphur Springs, Judge Mary Hoak presiding.
Jose Sanchez, now 36, met the victim in the fall of 2010 when he responded to a police call regarding a matter at her school. From that encounter, Sanchez had legitimately acquired the teen’s cell phone number, according to 14th Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham.
But over the course of the following two months, the two developed a texting relationship that evolved into sending sexually explicit photos of each other and provocative text messages.
Through a court order to acquire Verizon phone records, the Granby Police Department found that as many as 8,600 texts were exchanged between Sanchez and the teen during a period of about 56 days.
Although the prosecution produced evidence of the large volume of texts between Sanchez and the 16-year-old individual, the case centered on two text photos Sanchez received of the teen baring her breasts.
Authorities were made aware of these photos and others through testimony from both the defendant and victim during police and Colorado Bureau of Investigation interviews that led to Sanchez’ arrest on Dec. 15, 2010.
That same day, Sanchez was fired from the Granby Police force for “violating police department policies.”
Granby Police first learned of Sanchez’s affair on Dec. 7 from an anonymous tip.
“I was very impressed with the police department – that they took it seriously and acted so quickly,” Oldham said, post-trial.
In Sanchez’ trial, the prosecution held the burden of proving that through Sanchez’ actions, he had enticed the victim to send the naked photos of herself and had true possession of those photos.
The prosecution outlined that through the course of their texting, Sanchez had escalated relations from flirtatious exchanges to “sexting,” demonstrating that Sanchez had returned to the teen two text photos of his own genitalia.
“He was the police officer, the adult; he had the responsibility to stop the relationship and he didn’t,” Oldham said in closing statements.
Focusing on the nuance of law, Sanchez’ attorney Jack DiCola of Hot Sulphur Springs tried to prove, through a witness that started out as potential juror carrying information about the case, that the teen sent the photographs on her own accord without Sanchez’ influence.
The witness happened to have met the victim at a local salon, where the victim told the witness she had sent photos to an older man and had gotten him in trouble. Asked why she did that, the teen responded “because I wanted to,” according to the witness’ testimony.
But the prosecution drove home the 35-year-old man’s “inappropriate” behavior while in his position of authority, convincing the jury of 12, nine of whom were men.
The jury’s verdict is based on two charges of Class 3 felonies that Sanchez knowingly caused the victim to send the naked photos of herself, a potential sentence of four to 12 years incarceration on each count, and two counts of Class 6 felonies for possessing the photos, each of which carries a sentence of one year to 18 months.
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