Defense lawyer confronts Janusz accuser
A 29-year-old woman testified Wednesday that sex in her teenage years with a Grand Junction police officer totaled “too many times to count” in 2000, while attorneys for 42-year-old Eric Janusz sought to wreck her credibility by raising varying statements she has given.
Testimony from the accuser in the sexual-assault trial of Janusz consumed a full day Wednesday in District Judge Valerie Robison’s courtroom. The woman returns again to the witness stand this morning. A contentious cross-examination Wednesday by attorney Colleen Scissors brought no fewer than 15 objections — repeatedly halting the trial — from Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand.
The woman’s testimony suggests Janusz’s alleged on-the-job sexual appetite for young women wasn’t a secret within the ranks of the Grand Junction Police Department in 2000.
During their second meeting in July 2000 at what was then the Mesa State College police substation, the woman testified she and a uniformed Janusz were briefly interrupted by an unnamed officer, who walked into the substation as Janusz and the woman were talking. Janusz was making flirtatious discussion about his handcuffs while stroking her arm, the woman testified.
The unidentified officer asked, “Are you up to your old self, Janusz?” the woman told jurors.
When the mystery officer left the building, she said Janusz pinned her against a wall, handcuffed her, inched her shorts down and started kissing her neck.
“I was nervous about it and attracted to him, but I was also scared,” she said. “I didn’t know if I told him to stop if he would still help my brother.”
The woman told a slightly different story during a preliminary hearing in August, testifying then she pulled her own shorts down slightly, Scissors noted. The woman, in a prior interview with Police Detective Tony Clayton, also made no mention of physical contact from Janusz, aside from the handcuffing.
“It was very hard talking to a male officer about something a male officer had participated in,” the woman told jurors when pressed on the changing statements.
Several days later, she returned to the substation, where they had sexual intercourse for the first time in the facility’s bathroom, she said. She remembered Janusz flushing a condom down the toilet.
Transcripts from the woman’s original interview with Clayton in August 2011 showed she couldn’t recall where they had sex for the first time in the police facility. The woman, hammered repeatedly about the differing accounts by Scissors, said her memory of the decade-plus old incidents has improved over time. She said she was also leery to tell the full story to Clayton.
“I didn’t want it to sound dirty, so I didn’t want to tell him it was in the bathroom,” the woman testified Wednesday.
In and out of foster care by age 16 at the time of the alleged sexual encounters with Janusz in 2000, the woman had reached out for the officer’s assistance to fight a restraining order against her contacting her brother. Janusz was married at the time.
“There were too many times to count,” the woman said, testifying in detail about sex at the police substation, in a gymnasium at the college, in his police patrol car and in his private truck. Mostly, they met in the alleyway behind the 800 block of White Avenue, where she’d sneak out the back of her grandmother’s former home.
There were other times in the parking lot of Orchard Avenue Elementary School, which stuck prominently in her mind because she said she “went to school there.”
One time, she testified she and a uniformed Janusz, who’d parked his patrol car in the alleyway on White Avenue for oral sex, were nearly caught by her uncle when dogs started barking.