Plea bargain nets 14-year term in Aspen assault case
ASPEN – Accused rapist Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun was sentenced to 14 years in state prison Tuesday after he accepted a deal that included him pleading guilty to a charge connected to sexual assault.
The plea agreement means he won’t be tried a second time for kidnapping and sexual assault charges stemming from a Jan. 17, 2009, incident outside of Aspen’s Centennial Apartments complex.
Gonzalez-Loujun had been accused of following the victim home from a bus stop and dragging her to various locations, including a snowbank outside of her apartment, where he sexually assaulted her. In an April trial, the victim testified that he said he would kill himself with a gun if she didn’t comply with his demands, and that she was afraid for her own life.
The victim, who attended the arraignment and sentencing hearing held in Pitkin County Court, said she did not believe the punishment fit the crime. Gonzalez-Loujun should spend the rest of his life in prison, she said.
“It’s not the justice I wanted,” she said. “But it’s better than going back to trial and being re-victimized.”
In an April trial, public defenders Tina Fang and Stephen McCrohan argued that the victim and suspect had arranged a deal to exchange sex for cocaine and that the Aspen Police Department squandered the investigation with sloppy detective work. They also suggested the woman was a promiscuous bar-hopper who lacked credibility.
The trial resulted in a hung jury that voted 9-3 to acquit Gonzalez-Loujun of kidnapping and sexual assault. A conviction could have put him behind bars for life. He was, however, convicted of cocaine possession and possession with intent to distribute, along with a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge. The jury acquitted him of assaulting a police officer, a felony.
The hung jury set the stage for another trial – on the kidnapping and sexual assault charges – slated to begin June 14.
But now that trial is off the table, and Gonzalez-Loujun will be headed to the state penitentiary in Canon City later this week. The 22-year-old Carbondale resident was given credit for 494 days served in the Pitkin County jail, where he has been incarcerated since he was arrested the morning in question.
As part of the plea agreement, Gonzalez-Loujun pleaded guilty to the class-five felony charge of criminal attempt to commit sexual assault by overcoming the victim’s will. Sexual penetration is one element of that crime, for which Gonzalez-Loujun was sentenced to six years in prison.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin said he was satisfied that Gonzalez-Loujun pleaded guilty to a sexual offense. The case was not as cut and dried as it appeared, Mordkin said, calling it “complicated” because of conflicting testimony and evidence. He said the victim was consulted about the plea agreement, but it was the district attorney’s office that ultimately made the decision.
Said the victim: “They wanted my opinion on it and I wasn’t happy with it, but I gave it to them.”
Gonzalez-Loujun also pleaded guilty to violating probation for a deferred felony theft judgment he received in 2007 after he stole jewelry from a boutique at the St. Regis Aspen hotel. The probation violation was triggered after the same Pitkin County jury – which hung on the sexual assault and kidnapping charges – convicted Gonzalez-Loujun for the drug and resisting arrest charges in the April trial.
While the probation violation conviction also carried a six-year prison sentence, the possession with intent to distribute conviction called for 14 years in the department of corrections. The cocaine possession conviction was dropped, and the misdemeanor resisting arrest carried one year in Pitkin County jail.
However, all of the sentences will run concurrent as part of the plea agreement, meaning Gonzalez-Loujun, with the credit he was given for time served, could be released from the Department of Corrections no later than January 2023. He’ll be 35 then.
Once he’s released, Gonzalez-Loujun, who has had an Immigrations Customs and Enforcement hold on him since his arrest, will be deported to his home country, which prosecutor Arnold Mordkin said he believed to be Mexico.
During the sentencing hearing, Gonzalez-Loujun was soft spoken as District Judge James Boyd explained the punishment.
“I want the court to hear that this has been a hard situation for me,” he told the judge. “This doesn’t define or reflect who I am as a person. I honestly believe I can overcome the source of the problem, and that’s alcohol.”
The judge, however, did not appear sympathetic, saying “it’s not unusual to hear” that type of statement during a sentencing hearing.
“It’s going too far to say these crimes aren’t part of you,” Boyd told Gonzalez-Loujun. “The choices you make … are part of you.”
Boyd called the sexual encounter a “violent act.”
“A crime was committed in a densely populated residential area in Aspen,” Boyd said. “People were returning from work and partying-type activities.”
Boyd called the sentence and plea agreement “an appropriate disposition.”
The victim, meanwhile, said she has built a support system since the incident. On that cold January morning, she was returning home after being out on the town. She had taken the 1:40 a.m. public bus home, when Gonzalez-Loujun sat next to her and commented on the dress she was wearing.
After she exited the bus and went to her apartment unit, she and her roommate began to prepare a meal. When the roommate noticed his snowboard had gone missing and saw Gonzalez-Loujun peering through the window, he went outside. After the roommate did not return for a period of time, the woman left the unit to check on his whereabouts.
She claims she was accosted by Gonzalez-Loujun, who dragged her to a snowbank and raped her. Prosecutors had said Gonzalez-Loujun had at least three sexual-type encounters – orally, vaginally and anally – with the woman.
The victim said she continues to take the bus home.
“I still ride by myself,” she said, “but I have a buddy system with my friends.”
She said she doesn’t regret testifying in the April trial.
“It’s important for women to speak up, but I respect those who don’t.”