Grand Junction man who assaulted 2 girls gets 86 years to life

A Grand Junction man convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls, one repeatedly over a multi-year span, was sentenced to a lengthy term by a Mesa County judge on Friday.

Aaron Neff, 47, was sentenced to a term of 86 years to life, after being found guilty on nine separate counts related to sexual assault, including counts of child sexual assault as a pattern of abuse and from a position of trust.

Through his public defender, Clinton Knorpp, Neff asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during Friday's sentencing hearing.

In ordering the lengthy corrections sentence, District Judge Richard Gurley referred to the "incredible" trauma endured by one of Neff's victims, who was repeatedly assaulted between the ages of 8 and 17. Gurley called the victim, now a married adult woman, "remarkable."

According to previous reporting, the woman told a friend and a church youth leader about the alleged abuse when she was a teenager, and the youth leader reported the story to child welfare workers. When a detective contacted her, she initially denied the abuse, but later got in touch with authorities to report that she had indeed been sexually abused by Neff, often on a daily basis.

The prosecution of Neff's case was led by Melinda Shisham, but it wasn't without obstacle. Neff's first jury trial ended in a mistrial in October last year, after jurors heard more than they should have about the defendant's history when a witness let slip information about Neff's criminal past that wasn't supposed to be heard by the jury,

Gurley on Friday assessed a number of fines and fees Neff will have to pay in connection to the case, but a restitution hearing was set for August to determine exactly how much he'll be responsible for paying to victims and to the court.

Gurley also on Friday credited Neff with 702 days served in custody while his case was making its way through the courts.

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