Deportation looms for immigrant sentenced in Pitkin County sex case |

Deportation looms for immigrant sentenced in Pitkin County sex case

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Luis Santiago-Narvaez

A Glenwood Springs man faces deportation to his home country in the wake of convictions for felony burglary and a misdemeanor sex crime, but first he will spend 60 to 90 days in Pitkin County Jail.

Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols also sentenced Luis Santiago-Narvaez, 35, to concurrent probation terms of three and five years Monday, following a jury trial held during the first week of June. Santiago-Narvaez, an El Salvadoran who resides in the U.S. illegally, also must register as a sexual offender, the judge said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to be deported, that it’s going to happen,” Nichols said, noting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can pick him up after he spends at least 60 days in county jail.

The sentencing closed the chapter on a case stemming to Nov. 6, when Santiago-Narvaez was arrested for having unlawful sexual contact with a housekeeper who had been stranded on the balcony of a home in Basalt.

The woman, who testified in the June trial, told jurors she became stranded on the balcony after she shut the home’s second-floor sliding-glass door to clean windows. The door locked behind her, and for five hours she was stuck on the balcony until Santiago-Narvaez pulled into the residence’s driveway, which was shared by a home where he was doing construction work. The woman got Santiago-Narvaez’s attention, and he went inside the home and freed her from the balcony.

But then he aggressively hit on her, touching her breasts and backside and asking for her phone number. The woman resisted his advances and was able to shoo him away, later contacting police.

Santiago-Narvaez also testified and denied any wrongdoing, but the jury convicted him of felony burglary and misdemeanor sexual contact and acquitted him on a harassment charge.

Prosecutor Andrea Bryan said Santiago-Narvaez continues to shun any accountability, saying “he’s playing victim” and “he’s taken absolutely zero responsibility for what he’s done.”

Santiago-Narvaez, who is illiterate, declined to make a statement to the court during the sentencing hearing. His attorney, Ted Hess of Glenwood Springs, said he’s been a productive worker and has supported his wife and two children for 15 years in the Roaring Fork Valley, despite having “zero years of education.”

“Had Mr. Santiago prevailed at trial, he could have remained in the U.S. because he wouldn’t be a priority for deportation,” Hess said.

A court-ordered psycho-evaluation showed Santiago-Narvaez is a low risk to commit another sex crime.

“Above all else, Mr. Santiago is in a very bad place,” Hess said. “This conviction will ruin his life in America; his wife and children will remain in the U.S. without a husband or father.”

Nichols called the saga “a difficult case,” noting the court determined Santiago-Narvaez is not a sexually violent predator, but he still crossed the line that November day.

“Looking at the sex offense, it’s a misdemeanor, but Mr. Santiago-Narvaez went too far,” she said.