Jury selection under way in Janusz trial
Attorneys Monday started picking a jury from a pool of 86 residents in the trial of a former Grand Junction police officer charged with sexual assault.
Eric Janusz, 42, who appeared in District Judge Valerie Robison’s courtroom on Monday free on bond, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault on a child and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
Some 45 residents who were summoned for jury duty were dismissed by attorneys last week based on responses they gave in jury questionnaires — a tool used by courts to weed out prospective jurors exposed to pretrial publicity.
Janusz’s accuser, now 28, testified in a preliminary hearing last August to numerous sexual encounters with Janusz in 2000 when she was 16. She said Janusz was in uniform and on the job during the encounters, at the time assigned to the police department’s substation at then-Mesa State College.
The woman testified she met Janusz while he was investigating a runaway case involving her brother. She testified Janusz threatened during the investigation that he had the power to put her “back into foster care” if she didn’t help him in the case.
Prosecutors are seeking to introduce at trial testimony from another woman who claimed Janusz, during his police employment, made sexual advances toward her while he was on duty and when she was underage in 2003 and 2004.
Janusz left the police department in 2006 and went to work for the Grand Junction Fire Department, where he remained employed until February 2012 when he quit in a dispute over workers’ compensation.
The trial is scheduled through March 22.