DA urges victims to report sex crimes | VailDaily.com

DA urges victims to report sex crimes

Jim Pokrandt
Special to the DailyMark Hurlbert

BRECKENRIDGE ” Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said the Kobe Bryant case should not discourage sex crime victims from prosecuting their cases.

The DA left that message Thursday in a talk before a business association in Breckenridge.

“What happened in the Kobe Bryant case to that victim will not happen again,” Hurlbert said.

The reason is money.

Defendants don’t normally spend the estimated $12 to $14 million on their case that the Los Angeles Lakers basketball star did, said Hurlbert, who lives in Breckenridge and whose jurisdiction spans three other mountain counties, including Summit.

On Sept. 1, Hurlbert dropped the rape charges against Bryant when the defendant refused to go forward with the highly publicized case.

Hurlbert said people who feel they are sex assault victims “will be listened to and will be believed.”

He said that doesn’t mean every case would be prosecuted, however. The DA touted the fact his office employees a full-time sex crimes prosecutor, Arly Miner, who is trained to work with victims and police.

“This gives us a higher level of prosecution,” he said.

Hurlbert said Summit County does not see the types of sex assaults where people jump out of bushes. “What we do see are acquaintance rapes,” he said, meaning the victim knows who assaulted her, and drugs or intoxication may be involved.

“Sexual assault is an incredibly underreported crime,” he said, noting national statistics that point to 60 to 70 percent of incidents are kept private.

Embezzlement problem

The DA’s office stands ready to help the business community with aggressive programs on embezzlement and bad checks, Hurlbert said.

“We take a hard line toward embezzlement cases … and trying to get your money back quickly,” Hurlbert said.

His office plea bargains up front to get back embezzled money on threat of jail time, he said. But he cautioned employers that if their employees have a pattern of stealing money, quick recovery might not happen.

“If they have a history of this, I apologize up front, you probably won’t get your money quickly because we put those people in prison … earning $2 a day making license plates,” he said.

He reminded businesses about his office’s free bad check prosecution program. Hurlbert said he tries to collect on bad check without going to prosecution, but the threat of an arrest warrant and jail “tends to get people to pay quickly.”

One slow-paying bad check writer learned the consequences when he was arrested after returning from his honeymoon and jailed for a couple of days, he said.

“He’ll have something to tell his children,” Hurlbert said.

The DA also said his office takes a hard stance on violent crime.

“If you commit a violent felony, you are going to prison on a long sentence,” he said.

Hurlbert’s 5th Judicial District office covers Summit, Eagle, Lake and Clear Creek counties.

Vail Colorado

Support Local Journalism