Man sentenced to 18 years in child rape case
One of three men accused of child sexual assault has been sentenced to almost two decades of imprisonment, the maximum amount allowed by his plea agreement.
Eric R. Cordero, 48, of Craig was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison for one count of felony assault and three years for one count of felony attempt to commit sexual assault. The sentences will run concurrently with a three year parole period following his incarceration.
Cordero was arrested in November 2019 and sentenced after pleading guilty to reduced charges in December. His initial charges were sexual assault with the aid of a person or weapon, sexual assault on an incapable victim, sexual assault on a victim under 15, sexual assault on a child and sexual assault with a 10-year age difference. The plea agreement amended two of the charges while dismissing the other three.
In court Thursday, Cordero cried while defense attorney Abigail Kurtz-Phelan urged Judge Mary Hoak to consider sentencing her client a 15-year term, the least amount of time allowed under his plea. She said that Cordero himself was a victim of child sexual abuse.
“He has true remorse and genuine feelings about this,” Kurtz-Phelan told the court. “He has been cooperative with police. Mr. Cordero didn’t run … he’s admitted to what he did and taken responsibility for it.”
Cordero didn’t speak at the hearing with Kurtz-Phelan saying he was too emotional to comment.
Responding to Kurtz-Phelan’s argument, District Attorney Matt Karzen acknowledged that Cordero’s outlook is “much more healthy” than he’s seen from other defendants facing similar charges, but the prosecutor still asked the judge for the harshest punishment possible.
“I submit that anyone that does this kind of thing has earned the full measure available to the court, if for no other reason than in the interest of general deterrence of this abhorrent, brutal behavior,” Karzen said.
While issuing the sentence, Hoak told Cordero that she believed he could change if he continued to take advantage of treatment options within the Department of Corrections. However, Hoak also addressed the heinous nature of Cordero’s crimes and how his victim will be forever affected by them.
“I agree with the defense that nobody should be judged by the worst moment in their lives, but I am here to punish you for what is the worst thing, I hope, you will ever do,” Hoak said. “You have a responsibility, sir, to this young (child) to be better and to do better and to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”
At the same time, the case continues for Larry Darnell, 51, a Kremmling man who’s accused of repeatedly drugging and raping the child, and allowing others to assault the child in his presence.
Darnell is facing several charges of sexual assault of a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual exploitation of a child and possessing material of child sexual exploitation.
Cordero told police in 2019 that Darnell told him to have sex with the victim and he admitted to investigators that he inappropriately touched and performed oral sex on the child. The arrest affidavit adds that Darnell filmed the assault. Cordero allegedly told police that he believed the child was older at the time.
A third man named in the affidavit is Daniel Gutierrez, 26, who also faces charges of sexual assault. Gutierrez was arrested in February 2020.
Darnell and Gutierrez are scheduled to appear in court again on March 25. Gutierrez and Darnell remain in the Grand County Jail on $250,000 and $1 million bonds, respectively.
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A man initially accused of felony assault has been absolved of wrongdoing by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, whose investigators have also uncovered some “additional suspects.”