February 20, 2013
A former Colorado Springs police officer convicted last year in a sweeping child-molestation case will learn his fate Friday.
But if Joshua Carrier’s 18 victims and their parents are expecting him to voice remorse — make a statement of any kind — it won’t come at his sentencing hearing.
“He’s been advised by counsel not to speak for appellate reasons,” said Joshua Tolini, one of the attorneys who represented Carrier through two trials — one that ended with a hung jury, the other with a chorus of guilty verdicts.
Short of winning an appeal, Carrier, 31, will never again be a free man.
Check out @lancebenzel on Twitter for a live account of former Colorado Springs police officer Joshua Carrier’s sentencing hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday before 4th Judicial District Judge David A. Gilbert.
Convicted of sexually abusing 18 of the 22 Horace Mann Middle School students who lodged allegations against him, Carrier faces a possible maximum of up to 500 years behind bars, according to a seven-page memorandum in which prosecutors lay out their interpretation of Colorado’s complex sentencing laws.
The sexual abuse occurred during the 2010-2011 school year while Carrier was volunteering as an assistant wrestling coach. It involved allegations that he fondled, groped and videotaped student wrestlers in the nude under the pretext he was checking them for skin diseases before matches.
He also was convicted of molesting children while checking students who complained of sports injuries and illness — abuses prosecutors say became possible because Carrier used his badge and a phony claim of being an EMT to garner trust.
The convictions include child pornography charges related to pornographic DVDs and images uncovered by Colorado Springs police.
While Carrier’s attorneys dispute prosecutors’ interpretation of sentencing laws, they concede he faces at least 80 years and must serve most of that penalty.
Even with a minimum sentence, Carrier would be ineligible for probation until he reaches the 70-percent mark, or 56 years.
In addition, many of Carrier’s penalties are “indeterminate” under sentencing laws for sex offenders, meaning he will not be released until prison officials deem him to be rehabilitated. Attorneys say it amounts to a de-facto life sentence.
“Whether he gets 80-to-life or 200-to-life, the effect on Mr. Carrier is the same,” Tolini said.
The case shocked a community and led the city and School District 11 to share the burden of millions of dollars’ worth of civil claims.
School District 11 has refused to release settlement documents, arguing they are confidential academic records.
In November, the district broke its silence on the case, citing “the spirit of cooperation,” and confirmed that it had by then paid $726,000 to four claimants.
Asked on Wednesday for an update, school district spokeswoman Devra Ashby referred all questions to the district’s records supervisor, Katherine Ritchie-Rapp, who did not respond to an email or voicemail from The Gazette.
According to testimony at trial, the city and school district approved a $9.4 million civil settlement with at least 14 families associated with the case. Others also have filed suit. The status of their awards isn’t clear.
Carrier, a well-regarded seven-year police veteran before his arrest, is being held without bond in a special ward at the El Paso County jail.
Said Tolini: “They’ve got him in isolation. He seems to be OK and he’s looking forward to the appellate process.”
While Carrier is unlikely to flout his attorney’s advice to remain silent, Friday’s sentencing before 4th Judicial District Judge David Gilbert will mark the first time those impacted by the crimes will be able to address him in person.
Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel
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