Ex-Fairview High School student sentenced to prison for raping 3 classmates in case at center of trial

More than five years after another student at Fairview High School raped them, two women appeared before a Boulder County judge on Friday and told him of the horror their rapist had inflicted on them.

The rapist destroyed them, the two women said. They suffered from panic attacks and self-harm. They dropped out of advanced classes, dropped out of extracurricular activities. They struggled to graduate. They lost friendships. He made them hate their bodies. He made them want to die.

“Do you know what it’s like to feel your soul slowly dying?” one of the women asked the judge.

But the women survived and did not back down in their quest for justice, even as they faced gossip and bullying at school. Even when, they say, school officials have done little to protect them. Even though the criminal justice process dragged on for years.

Their rapist was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Friday for sexually assaulting three young women when he was a student and a lacrosse player at Fairview High.

“We did everything in our power to ensure that he never hurt anyone again,” one of the women said in court Friday.

The Denver Post does not name the accused because he was prosecuted in juvenile court. The Post also does not name victims of sexual assault.

The criminal case resolved Friday was one of three at the center of a years-long review of how Fairview High School and the entire Boulder Valley School District are handling sexual assault allegations. The students launched a campaign to reform the district’s culture, policies and training after a series of allegations against students, including Fairview’s star football quarterback.

A jury acquitted the quarterback of five sexual offenses and he pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment, disappointing several of the women who said he assaulted them. In a separate case, a high school social worker was accused of failing to report a student’s allegations against the football player to law enforcement. The social worker was also acquitted.

The school district is also facing a civil lawsuit in connection with the criminal case involving the former lacrosse player. The lawsuit, filed in August by two of the victims in the criminal case, alleged senior Fairview officials knew during the 2016-17 school year that the lacrosse player was accused of raping at least two students , but did not investigate and did nothing to protect students from facing a hostile environment at school.

Fairview principal Don Stensrud retired in December after being placed on leave while the school district investigated the lawsuit allegations.

“You stole them”

At the former lacrosse player’s sentencing on Friday, survivors testified how Fairview became hell because school officials failed to remove their attacker from classes, forcing them to meet their rapist in the hallways.

One of the women’s mothers said she watched her ambitious and active daughter go from a lifelong early riser to someone who couldn’t get out of bed on some days. The mother spent nights sleeping on the floor next to her daughter’s bed, fearing her daughter would hurt herself.

“While other students are searching online for places to go for spring break, she is looking for where to get trauma-friendly treatment,” the woman’s mother said.

Senior Guest Judge Kenneth Plotz sentenced the defendant, who was a minor at the time he committed the crimes, to 90 days in the county jail, two years probation, sex offender treatment and 90 hours of labor. general interest. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

The sentence was part of a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the three women. Plotz expressed concern about the sentence, which he said appears light given the seriousness of the charges and their repetitive and deliberative nature.

“You stole them,” Plotz told the defendant. “You robbed them of the freedom, wonder and joy of adolescence.”

But Boulder Assistant District Attorney Brad Turner said the sentence, agreed to as part of a plea deal, was discussed with survivors and had their support. Dismissing the stipulated sentence would force the defendant to withdraw his plea and the case would continue to drag on, Turner said.

“This agreement is the result of lengthy discussions with the survivors in this case,” Turner said. “That’s what they wanted.”

“This is for all of us”

The defendant apologized to his victims during the sentencing hearing and admitted his crimes. His attorney said he underwent years of treatment and therapy.

“To the women I’ve hurt, I want you to know my sincere apologies,” he said.

One of the survivors was 16 when the defendant raped her in a closet at a Halloween party in 2016. He was her boyfriend at the time, her first. It had been her first kiss. She told the judge she could still see the walls of the closet, hear the clamor of the party, smell the grass on the lawn where she sat waiting for a friend’s mother to pick her up from the party.

“It was the night I lost who I was,” she said.

Another survivor told the judge that it took her years to be able to utter the word “rape”. The defendant, then a sophomore, raped her in the high school baseball dugout in May 2017. She was a freshman at the time and had turned 15 a month earlier. She was afraid to report the crime to the school because she had seen how others had been bullied when they spoke up, according to the civil lawsuit.

A third woman, who did not speak in court on Friday, was raped by the defendant at a party in October 2015, according to the civil lawsuit filed against the school district. The woman’s mother reported the rape to officials at Fairview High School in late 2016.

At least eight other women approached survivors to say they had also been assaulted by the defendant, according to the lawsuit.

“This is for all of us,” one of the survivors said during sentencing on Friday.

Survivors are recovering, their families said. They went to therapy or spent time outdoors. One of the women’s mothers said she saw the light return to her daughter’s eyes.

As she finished her statement in court on Friday, one of the survivors stood up and turned to the man who raped her. She looked him in the eye in the silent, wood-panelled courtroom.

“To me, you were buried forever,” she said. “I freed myself.”

Martha K. Merrill