Stepdaughter of ex-Aspen cop testifies in sex case
ASPEN – The alleged victim in the sexual exploitation case against a former Aspen police officer testified this week that she recanted her original allegations against her stepfather to “save my family.”Testimony from the alleged victim, given Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court, came during a motions hearing in the case of Joseph Holman, 39. He is scheduled for a jury trial July 13 on felony sex crimes connected to allegedly hiding a video camera in the shower stall of his stepdaughter, who was 15 at the time. The alleged incident happened April 29, 2009. After being placed on administrative leave a month later, Holman resigned from the Aspen Police Department on June 24, the day he was arrested.The stepdaughter, who now lives in California with her sister and brother-in-law, testified that Holman had been invading her privacy at least one year before the alleged video camera incident. At that time she brought her complaint to authorities, which spurred a probe by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. But charges were not filed because the stepdaughter recanted her story.The girl said she was influenced to change the story, which she now contends to be true, by her mother.”My mom told me that if I go through with this I could destroy this family, everything we work for and have,” testified the girl, now 17. While the 2008 allegations fell flat, the prosecution, led by Jonathan Pototsky, has filed a motion to admit them as evidence in next month’s trial. The motions hearing will be continued June 25 in front of District Judge James Boyd. Pototsky claims Holman engaged in six “acts” in the spring and summer of 2008 against his stepdaughter, including allegedly touching her inappropriately during massages, planting a small mirror in her bathroom, peeping through her bedroom window, and intruding on her in her bedroom and bathroom. “Some times he would come over and massage my feet … then start going to my thigh area,” the stepdaughter testified. “I was feeling uncomfortable but I was too uncomfortable to say anything.”One of the alleged acts, which happened the day the stepdaughter graduated from the eighth grade in 2008, was when Holman allegedly walked in on her in the bathroom, after she had showered. “I saw someone standing there and I was saying, ‘No, this can’t be happening,'” she testified. That incident did not come to light until Pototsky met with the stepdaughter Tuesday, before her testimony. During cross examination, Holman’s defense attorney, former Pitkin County prosecutor Lawson Wills, implied the stepdaughter has a vendetta against Holman. That’s because, Wills suggested, she wanted more attention from her mother, and their home life had become strained. The girl also had gotten in trouble for drinking alcohol and sending sexually explicit text messages to her boyfriend, and Holman had struggled to keep her in line, Wills said.”You wanted to get rid of Joe, didn’t you?” Wills asked the stepdaughter.”Yes.””This was a great way to get rid of him, right?””Yes.”Wills later asked her, “You hate him, right?”The alleged victim responded: “As I’ve grown through my Christianity I’ve learned to not hate, but I loathe.”Wills also asked the stepdaughter why she is now sticking to a story she had previously recanted. “I’m telling the truth today,” she said. “The past is the past.”Often, the stepdaughter said she had “tweaked the truth” when she recanted her 2008 story given to CBI investigators, her mother, school officials, Pitkin County Health & Human Services, and then-Aspen police detective Jim Crowley, who is now an investigator for Wills in the Holman case.”We’re talking about [five] people you’ve lied to, or what you call ‘tweaking the truth’ … five people you lied to, to save your situation,” Wills told the girl. Later, Wills asked her: “How do we know you are telling the truth today and when you are not?”Replied the girl: “I was sworn in and I’m not going to lie.”The girl said she has changed now because of her Christianity, “and I’m way more in depth with that than before.”She also testified that she gave up her Aspen life – her family, school friends and horses – because of her allegations against Holman. “I had to leave all of that to get away so I could feel safe,” she said. On Wednesday, Wills said the strained family life will be a focal point in the trial.”That’s going to be one of the issues: Was his intent sexual or was it a stepfather struggling in the raising of a teenager?”Holman allegedly told authorities he placed the video camera in the shower stall to make his stepdaughter mad. Holman, who joined the APD in 2000 as a community safety officer, also allegedly destroyed the camera after being confronted about it. Holman is charged with the felony counts of criminal attempt to commit sexual exploitation of children, criminal attempt to commit sexual exploitation of a child, and tampering with criminal evidence. He faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted.The trial is expected to last five firstname.lastname@example.org
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