It took Colorado Springs police more than six years to make an arrest in a sexual assault case even though the victim identified her attacker to authorities the day after her 2007 assault.
Even after police found a DNA match for the attacker, it was two years before police arrested 35-year-old Daniel R. Gostnell on suspicion of sexual assault, court records show.
Lt. Howard Black, who heads the department’s special victims’ unit, said he wasn’t aware of enough background on the case to know what delayed the arrest, which came after a large-scale review of sexual assault cold cases funded by a federal grant.
“What I can say is we’re reviewing. We’ve reviewed a little over 2,100 cases and we’re checking for cases that might have leads,” he said. “This was time-consuming. Detectives painstakingly looked through every case.”
He said the Gostnell moved quickly after the review because the DNA testing was done. In other cases, the grant will pay for testing.
According to Gostnell’s court records, he knew the victim from a date the two had been on in September 2006. The victim told police that Gostnell wanted to have a relationship with her, but she had found another boyfriend. She told Gostnell that they could be friends.
Gostnell drove a trash truck and the victim’s house was on his route. In January 2007, he called to tell her that he was worried about her because of liquor bottles he found in her trash. She told him she was upset because her boyfriend had been deployed overseas and the two agreed to meet.
That night, the victim told police that she drank a lot of alcohol and Gostnell drove her home. She blacked out and woke up naked and sore, and felt like she had just had sex. She immediately called police, identified Gostnell as her attacker and was taken to the hospital where nurses examined her and collected evidence. The next month, the victim called Gostnell on a recorded line and confronted him about the attack.
“I walked you to your room and left. I did nothing with you. You were passed out,” he told her.
In June 2007, the department received a report from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation stating that the evidence collected at the hospital did contain DNA and that it was awaiting samples from Gostnell.
Apparently, the samples were never sent. It wasn’t until March 2010, after the office received the grant to re-examine DNA evidence, that the case was looked at again. Detectives contacted the victim, who again identified Gostnell as her attacker and said she was still interested in prosecution. DNA samples from Gostnell were collected in April 2010 and in October 2010 the CBI’s analysis report concluded that Gostnell’s DNA was a match.
Gostnell was arrested Oct. 19 and posted a $25,000 bond. His next court appearance is 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
“You are going to see a series of arrests that come out of this grant that we now have DNA matches,” Black said. “We will be holding perpetrators accountable where we weren’t able to in the past.”
Contact Maria St. Louis-Sanchez: 636-0274
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