Cop hit on her as teen, woman says
Affair recounted in affidavit alleging sexual assault by former officer
A Grand Junction Police Department officer in 2000 struck up a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl whom he met investigating a runaway case, which led to trysts in the officer’s patrol cruiser and at police facilities at then-Mesa State College, among other locations, according to court records made public.
The affair continued another 11 years, the records allege.
Eric Janusz, 42, of Fruita, is charged with four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, and another count alleging a pattern of abuse.
The arrest affidavit — authorities redacted the name of the accuser victim and identifying information — was unsealed by court order on May 15.
Daniel Shaffer, Janusz’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Grand Junction police in August 2011 opened an investigation into Janusz’s activities after the woman filed a report. She alleged they had an off and on sexual relationship ending in August 2011, the affidavit said.
She said it started in July 2000 when she was 16, when Janusz was assigned to investigate a runaway case involving the girl’s brother. Janusz at the time worked at the department’s substation at Mesa State.
Janusz was in uniform conducting official police business when they met, the affidavit said. The officer was married at the time.
“During the contact, Eric provided (girl) his personal cellphone number, was very flirtatious with her, and demanded her help in locating her runaway brother,” the affidavit said. “(Girl) reported that Eric pressured her to help locate (brother) or Eric would see that she went back into a living situation that she did not want to be in, foster care.”
The girl eventually gave up her brother’s location.
Days later, Janusz called the girl to the Mesa State substation again, citing a need for more information on the case, the affidavit said.
“(Girl) reported the meeting was not about the runaway report, rather the conversation between her and Eric during this meeting was flirtatious such as how good she was looking and her physical appearance,” the affidavit said. “(Girl) described Eric playfully handcuffing her during the meeting and how there was a sexual overtone to comments Eric made about it being fun.”
She said Janusz kissed her as she was handcuffed.
The next night, she said she went back to the facility, where they had sexual intercourse, the affidavit said.
The girl said they met again and had sex inside the college’s gymnasium. It was during this encounter that Janusz, who was in police uniform, received a call over his portable radio about a disturbance at nearby Albertsons, 1830 North 12th St., the affidavit said.
“Eric proceeded to finish having sex with (girl) before reporting to the incident,” the affidavit said.
Detectives later verified Janusz was called to the incident in question at 1:03 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2000, the affidavit said.
“(Girl) reported she and Eric were involved together in sexual contacts many times around the Grand Junction area. She described the locations as her grandmother’s car, the Mesa State College police facility, Grand Junction police cars, as well as other locations and vehicles,” the affidavit said.
The girl’s brother told detectives she had told him about a sexual relationship with a police officer, but he didn’t know if she was being truthful at the time.
“He said they felt they had a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card if he or (girl) got into trouble with the law because they had ‘dirt’ on a police officer,” the affidavit said.
Detectives obtained records of Facebook chats between the two over the summer of 2011, which included a reference to a “playful handcuffing incident,” as well as sexual encounters in Janusz’s patrol cruiser, the affidavit said.
Janusz allegedly threatened to “bury her in the desert” if she exposed the affair, the affidavit said.
Detectives were also provided recorded phone calls between Janusz and the woman, which included references to several of the alleged sexual encounters.
Detectives learned that Janusz in August 2000 testified in Montrose during a restraining order hearing involving the woman’s brother. During the hearing, when Janusz was present, testimony included a clear statement from the girl that she was 16, the affidavit said.
The woman’s grandmother told detectives she was unaware of the relationship until a few years ago, when Janusz’s accuser disclosed it. She also recalled Janusz, in full uniform, dropping her granddaughter off at their home several times, unrelated to the runaway reports involving the woman’s brother.
“(Grandmother) said she would have expected and trusted that Eric as a police officer would not have been involved in an intimate relationship with (girl),” the affidavit said. “She said that she would have reported it if she had known at the time.”
Hired in January 1996, Janusz left the department in October 2006 when he was hired by the Grand Junction Fire Department.
Janusz left the Fire Department this past February after a workers’ compensation separation. Fire Chief Ken Watkins has said Janusz was let go after using all his allotted compensation time without returning to the job following an injury.
Court records also show Janusz, while employed as a Grand Junction firefighter, was prosecuted in February 2010 on allegations of harassing an ex-wife and her boyfriend.
Prosecutors dismissed the case when Janusz agree to see an anger-management therapist.
The city of Grand Junction has declined to disclose the Fire Department’s internal handling of the matter, citing personnel laws.
Janusz is free on bond following his arrest on April 6. He’s scheduled to return to court next month.