Hooked - (Stacia Naquin)
Updated: 10/11/2013 - I'm SO CLOSE to being able to do a pull-up. So my trainer introduced something new into my training.
Two long trials are now over and a former Colorado Springs police officer could face life in prison.
After three days of deliberating, a jury found Carrier guilty of over 100 counts Friday. His trial lasted for six and a half weeks.
Carrier was already found guilty on more than 20 counts of child exploitation and pornography in a trial in April of this year, and not guilty on more than 30 counts alleging he touched the boys. The jury was undecided on more than 100 counts, which became the focus of the current trial.
One hundred twenty-three guilty verdicts were handed down Friday, including sexual assault on a child, enticement of a child, and unlawful sexual contact.
The jury found him not guilty on 25 counts, including on allegations of sexually assaulting a child during a strip search.
Several family members of the victims were in the courtroom as the verdicts were being read, as well as members of Carrier's family. Reporter Karen Morfitt said a woman sitting next to Carrier's mother put an arm around her as her son's fate became more and more clear. Tears were shed from both sides.
Carrier sat emotionless at the defendant's table.
Carrier was arrested in 2011 after allegations emerged that he had molested boys while a volunteer wrestling coach at Horace Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs. The jury agreed with the prosecution that Carrier showed a pattern of abuse while in a position of trust.
After all the verdicts were read, Carrier was escorted out of the room and taken into custody.
We talked with both sides after the verdict.
“We are both thrilled with the verdict. It just represents for those children that they were heard, they were believed, that the person who did this to them is not going to get away with it,” said prosecutor Amy Fitch.
"We are saddened but respectful of the verdict today. It's a difficult case and a difficult set of verdicts we received this afternoon,” said defender Christopher Decker.
Decker’s defense partner Josh Tolini spoke on behalf of Carrier.
“He feels deeply saddened for them and for everybody involved in the case. No matter how you look at it, this is a tragic situation. He obviously very strongly maintains his innocence,” said Tolini.
The prosecution hopes the case sends a message to the community that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what authoritative position you are in; if you sexually abuse children, you will be prosecuted.
It was an emotional end for the two long trials for victims’ families; some whose children had to testify against Carrier twice.
“Several of the kids were tearful when we met with them before the second trial at the thought of having to do it again. It was really hard for them,” Fitch said.
While some families felt relief, it’s just the beginning of their healing process.
Families did not want to go on camera, but we talked with their civil attorney.
“I’m greatly relieved on behalf of the children and their families. This verdict goes a great way towards a long healing process to restore the children and their families’ belief in people in positions of authority”, said civil attorney Ann Kaufman.
She says the family thanks all those who helped with the case and prosecution from the bottom of their hearts. It’s a process that’s been challenging for them.
“I can’t tell you how they are feeling, but I can tell you this has been indescribable circumstance for them, and given the damaging nature of these charges and what happened to their children, it’s an unspeakable horror,” said Kaufman.
While the defense says Carrier maintains his innocence, Kaufman had harsh words for Carrier.
“There is a time when a person has to look inside their hearts and understand the extreme destruction they have caused hundreds of human beings when you think of the ripple effects of these children."
The defense says they plan on appealing after the sentencing.
The charges that carry the highest sentencing range could land Carrier in prison anywhere from eight years to life in prison for each one; there are nine of those charges.
So prosecution expects, at minimum, that Carrier will be sentenced to 72 years in prison. He could be sentenced to life.
He will be sentenced in February. You can count on 11 News to be in the courtroom and let you know what happens.
Here is a statement from District 11 in response to Joshua Carrier verdict:
"School District 11 has learned that Officer Joshua Carrier, a former volunteer and school resource officer at Mann Middle School, has been convicted of multiple sexual offenses relating to children. We deeply regret the harm to our students and our school community resulting from Officer Carrier’s conduct as a person in a position of trust. The safety, security, and social emotional well-being of our students remain top priorities in the District."
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