Ex-cop gets prison for child sex assault

Former Grand Junction police officer Eric Janusz was sentenced at a hearing Wednesday morning in the Mesa County Justice Center. Janusz, previously found guilty on one of four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, was sentenced to 8 years to life.

Former Grand Junction police officer Eric Janusz will spend the next chapter of his life in the Colorado Department of Corrections after his sentencing Wednesday in connection with a sexual relationship he began while on duty with a 16-year-old runaway.

District Judge Valerie Robison sentenced Janusz, 43, to eight years to life. She cited the conclusion of a psychosexual evaluator who wrote that Janusz’s “refusal to take accountability puts him at risk to harm others.”

Prosecutor Mark Hand, who had sought the maximum sentence for Janusz, said he was pleased with the sentence.

“I think justice was served,” Hand said.

Janusz, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, police officer and Grand Junction city firefighter, asked Robison in a halting voice to place him on probation, mentioning his two children and saying, “I’d like the opportunity to be a daddy.”

Janusz turned back toward relatives sitting behind him in the courtroom and whispered “sorry about this” to them before turning back to face Robison for sentencing.

He made no direct comment to the victim.

The woman the jury found Janusz had victimized when she was a 16-year-old runaway declined to address the court directly, but in a letter that Hand read aloud, she called for the maximum possible sentence for Janusz.

“He took advantage of me and he used his authority to manipulate and control me,” the woman said in the letter.

At trial, the woman testified to multiple sexual encounters with Janusz, who was married at the time, in several locations, including a police substation at what was then Mesa State College, the gymnasium, in an alley behind her grandmother’s former home and in the parking lot at Orchard Avenue Elementary School.

Janusz left the police department in 2006 and joined the Grand Junction Fire Department, where he worked until the spring of 2012.

Janusz had tried to manipulate the woman who interviewed him for what is known as a psychosexual evaluation used in sentencing, Hand said at one point.

“Eric Janusz is a master at manipulation and deceit,” Hand said, noting that the evaluator detected “evidence of a personality disorder.”

Janusz’s older brother, Marc, sought probation for Janusz, saying that he posed no threat.

“This is something I believe not because he is my brother, but because I know him, that he is not a risk,” Marc Janusz said.

Defense attorney Colleen Scissors asked for probation for Janusz and told Robison that Janusz was unlikely to receive the treatment he needs in prison under an indeterminate sentence such as the one Robison handed down.

Inmates serving sentences with an end date, or determinate sentences, will have priority over him for treatment, Scissors said.

Hand disputed that and said he was confident that Janusz would receive treatment in prison.

Colorado Department of Corrections regulations provided by the agency list former law enforcement personnel as possible candidates for protective custody outside the general population.

Some offenders can be placed in prisons outside of the state for their safety, the DOC said, noting that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for certain types of offenders, such as former police officers.


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