Former officer gets two years probation

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – A district judge on Monday sentenced former Aspen police officer Joseph Holman to two years of supervised probation and a 40-day suspended jail term in connection with his misdemeanor convictions of tampering with evidence and attempted invasion of privacy.

Yesterday’s sentencing hearing in Pitkin County District Court, attended by more than 20 of Holman’s relatives and friends, came after a jury in July acquitted him of two felony counts of attempting to sexually exploit his stepdaughter by planting a camera in her shower stall.

Despite the acquittals of the more serious charges, the probation department recommended that Holman receive jail time and undergo sexual evaluations.

Holman’s attorney, Lawson Wills, lobbied for probation and no jail time, while prosecutor Jonathan Pototsky recommended probation and two weekends in jail. The accuser also recommended in a letter to the judge that Holman receive jail time.

“It sends a message that this is not to be tolerated in Pitkin County,” Pototsky said.

Judge James Boyd, however, noted that Holman, 39, of Aspen did not qualify for sexual evaluations because he was acquitted of the sex-related charges. Boyd also said that, provided Holman satisfies the requirements of his probation, which includes 150 hours of public service scheduled to begin no later than Sept. 15, he would not have to serve the jail sentence.

“I don’t want you to lose sight of the significance of this,” Boyd told Holman.

The judge added that while Holman has no criminal record, Holman had compromised his role as both a parent and law enforcement official.

Had Holman been convicted of the attempted sexual exploitation charges, he would have been required to register as a sex offender and undergo sexual therapy, among other sanctions. He also faced up to 20 years behind bars if convicted of all counts.

Holman apologized to his stepdaughter, along with his wife, son and friends.

“I ask for forgiveness so we can all move forward and heal from this process,” said Holman, who resigned from the Aspen Police Department on June 24, 2009, the same day he was arrested by an agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The charges against Holman came after his 16-year-old stepdaughter, who now lives in California, discovered a golf ball-sized camera in her shower stall. Holman allegedly planted it there on April 29, 2009. The following month, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the incident, acting on information provided by Pitkin County Health and Human Services, which opened the case.

During the trial, Holman’s defense was that he was a father struggling to discipline his insubordinate stepdaughter and that he planted the camera to make her angry.

That was enough to convince the jury to acquit him of two felony sexual exploitation counts. But the 12-member panel convicted him of tampering with evidence, which stemmed from Holman destroying the camera, and attempted invasion of privacy.

Despite the acquittals, Pototsky said he remains convinced that Holman is a sex offender.

“It is still in mind and always will be a sexual act,” he said.

Wills countered that both Pototsky and the probation department have treated Holman as if he’s a sex offender, despite the jury verdicts.

“Twelve jurors unanimously agreed that this was not a sex offense,” Wills said.

Wills said the probation office’s recommendation that Holman receive sexual counseling was “irresponsible.”

“He is not a sex offender – we proved that by the jury verdict,” Wills said. “Mr. Holman is never going to admit this is a sexual offense … There’s nothing left for him to do.”

Four friends of the Holmans testified on his behalf, telling the judge that Holman is a responsible and productive member of society.

“We believe Joe can be a very good man and be an honorable citizen,” said John Keleher of Aspen. “Joe is not a criminal, and there’s absolutely no chance that he would ever repeat this offense.”