Boys’ mentor abused them, affidavit says
Complaint alleges sex assault by person in a position of trust
A former sheriff’s deputy arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting children allegedly victimized multiple boys over several years and used a mentoring program to gain access to some victims.
The affidavit for Joshua Hemphill’s arrest alleges a pattern of grooming pre-pubescent boys and documents his obsession with constant contact with his alleged victims.
Hemphill, 25, who formerly worked for both the Mesa and Dolores county sheriff’s offices, is accused of building relationships with boys and having inappropriate sexual contact with them. Some of those alleged incidents took place at his home during overnight visits with the boys.
The investigation began in July when the Colorado Bureau of Investigation learned that a report of sexual abuse had been made by a boy on probation in South Dakota. The alleged victim told his probation officer that he had been “raped by a cop” in 2014, according to the affidavit.
The boy, who had previously lived in Montrose, met Hemphill through the Montrose Partners program, according to the affidavit. He was matched with Hemphill in the youth mentoring program for almost five months, and his contact ended with Hemphill when Partners terminated Hemphill’s volunteer participation after receiving complaints from the boy’s mother.
During the time he was assigned as the 12-year-old’s senior partner, Hemphill became increasingly attached to the boy, to the point where he had him spending the night at his home in Olathe. The boy’s mother expressed concern that Hemphill disregarded her rules, was in constant contact with her son and had no social or physical boundaries.
In June 2014, Hemphill spent at least two nights with the boy at his home, and the alleged abuse happened during those sleepovers. The boy suspected he was drugged and sexually assaulted when he was semi-conscious, and told authorities he remembered Hemphill standing over him at night and that he awoke with a nasty, salty taste in his mouth. Hemphill allegedly threatened the boy the next day, saying, “Whatever happened last night, don’t tell anybody, if you can remember,” and threatened violence if the boy told. When asked about the incident by investigators, Hemphill denied anything happened but referred to it as a “misunderstanding.”
The Partners program documented Hemphill spending more than 100 hours with the boy the first month they were paired, despite the fact that 12 hours is the recommended amount. Though program managers cautioned Hemphill to cut back on the hours and “not burn himself up” with the excessive contact, he replied that “he was having a good time,” the affidavit said.
After Partners asked Hemphill to take a week off from seeing the boy, he continued to contact him and the program ended the mentorship.
After Hemphill was dismissed as a Partners volunteer, he continued to seek relationships with young boys and notified the program in 2016 that he was providing guidance and teaching “life skills” to two brothers, which was not sanctioned by the program. It appears he met them at a Partners event but wasn’t assigned to mentor them, as his volunteer status had been terminated.
Hemphill’s attention was focused on the younger brother, who was 13 at the time, according to the affidavit. The parents reported that he “spent an inordinate amount of time with the two boys and did not appear that he had outside social relationships with other adults his age.”
When Hemphill was fired from his job as a detentions deputy in the Mesa County Jail in August 2016, the family offered him a place to stay while he was unemployed. The parents told authorities he refused to sleep in the room he was provided, but instead slept on the floor next to one of their boys.
Hemphill took the boys to his place in Dove Creek for a weekend in July. He is suspected of molesting one of the boys during that trip.
The boy’s family contacted police when Hemphill kept contacting them and wanted to take the kids for another weekend, despite the parents communicating clearly that they were not interested. They eventually obtained a restraining order to keep him away from their children, which Hemphill was arrested for allegedly violating on Aug. 22 when he contacted the family and said he wanted to pay for the boy’s therapy and apologized for what he had done.
Hemphill allegedly admitted to having inappropriate sexual contact with three other boys, with approximate ages of 15, 10 and 9 in the past, dating back to at least 2007. One of them lived in Idaho where he had served as a missionary for the Church of Latter-Day Saints. At the time, he said he was in a relationship with the child’s mother. The Idaho boy reported that he remembered Hemphill molesting him after giving him strong cold medicine that made him drowsy.
During questioning, Hemphill volunteered to take a polygraph test with a CBI agent and failed the test, according to the affidavit. During that examination, he admitted to photographing genitalia and performing sex acts on boys while they were sleeping in his home, the affidavit said. He also had approximately 275 images on his phone depicting child pornography, the affidavit said.
Hemphill is being held on $250,000 bond at the Montrose County Jail and faces possible charges of sexual exploitation of children, sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, and sexually assaulting the physically helpless.
Investigators suspect there may be additional victims and ask anyone with information to call the CBI’s Tip Line at 303-239-4243.