Alleged pool sex assault headed to trial
Jose Anival Sanchez, 35, of Eagle faces sexual assault charges for allegedly touching a girl and exposing himself at the recreation center’s pool in March. Sanchez is charged with sexual assault on a child, indecent exposure and public indecency.
At a preliminary hearing, Eagle County Court Judge Fred Gannett said he had found enough evidence in the case to bound it to District Court, where more serious cases are heard. A bond hearing was set for Nov. 12 and Sanchez will likely face a jury trial unless a plea agreement is reached with prosecutors.
“Probable cause has been found. The defendant is accused of bumping into the victim and squeezing her butt,” Gannett said.
Avon police arrested Sanchez on March 30 after a 13-year-old girl accused him of touching her and exposing himself at the pool.
Avon police Officer Chris Peck, a witness at Thursday’s hearing, said the girl, who was at the pool with friends, told him a man she later identified as Sanchez had first exposed himself by “showing his thing,” or penis, by a slide at the pool.
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The alleged victim’s two friends – Gannett ordered them idenitified only by their initials because they are juveniles- also said they had seen the man’s penis sticking out of his swimming suit.
“(The alleged victim) told me he later bumped into her while swimming and squeezed her butt,” Peck said. “She seemed agitated and was close to crying.”
Sanchez, however, apparently told Peck he had a rash and he had pulled his shorts down to scratch his groin and he didn’t noticed he was uncovered, Peck testified.
“He also said he had bumped into somebody while he was swimming, but he couldn’t see who it was because of the chlorine in the water,” Peck said.
Under cross examination, Peck said the two other girls didn’t see Sanchez touching the alleged victim, but one said she “heard her scream while she was swimming.”
“What evidence do you have to show that this contact was for sexual gratification?” Sanchez’s attorney, Jim Fahrenholtz, asked Peck.
“The statement of the exposure at the top of the slide,” Peck said. “Three girls said they had seen his penis.”
Peck said he had never heard other complaints about Sanchez from the pool’s personnel.
“That the defendant exposed himself was not only said by the alleged victim, but by other two girls,” Deputy District Attorney Dave Moffat told Gannett. “Not only he bumped into this girl, but he squeezed her butt and that shows it was for sexual gratification.”
Fahrenholtz argued the case is based on hearsay.
But Gannett said Peck had described the alleged victim as “spooked” by the events that day and said Peck’s testimony was part of the evidence.
“Two things happened in the same space at the same time,” Gannett said.
After the hearing, Fahrenholtz said he wasn’t surprised with Gannett’s decision.
“Every case seems to be bound over,” he said. “It’s because of the standard of proof of the prosecution is minimal. That’s why a lot of people waive the preliminary hearing.”
Sexual assault on a child, a class 4 felony, can carry a sentence of lifetime in prison. Public indecency is a misdemeanor.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.