CBS4 Denver reports on a disturbing case out of El Paso County, involving a former sheriff’s deputy who copped a plea and avoided prison time after he created and solicited child pornography:
A former El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy who created a pornographic image involving a young boy took a plea deal that allowed him to avoid prison time…
[Donald] Fair pleaded guilty to one count of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, a Class 4 felony. Under Colorado law, there is no mandated prison time for that charge. Instead, Fair was sentenced to sex offender intensive supervised probation for 10 years to life. Fair must register as a sex offender.
And which prosecutor gave ex-Deputy Donald Fair a plea deal that allowed him to stay out of prison, you ask?
“This outcome is the best we could hope for in this case under current Colorado law,” District Attorney George Brauchler said. “A young innocent child is not further traumatized by testifying and being cross-examined during a trial, and the perpetrator is monitored and given therapy to keep the community safe… For this case, for this moment, for these facts, this is justice.”
Ipso facto, a plea agreement means that this is not the “best” we could hope for under current law, presuming as we should that the best course is the harshest available penalty for a very serious crime committed by a sworn law enforcement officer. We understand prosecutors have discretion and every case is different–but if you’re not going to hold accountable law enforcement when they heinously break the law…well, who do you hold accountable?
It’s a question we find ourselves asking over and over again about Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, whose time in office before his abortive run for governor that was downgraded to a run for attorney general has been marked by a series of high-profile prosecutorial failures. This is, after all, the same George Brauchler who failed to win a death sentence against the Aurora theater shooter, subjecting survivors and families to months of needless suffering–much like Brauchler claims the victim in this latest case would suffer in court.
Another huge failure by Brauchler was the attempted prosecution of former local GOP darling and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who escaped multiple felony charges after a bumbling effort by Brauchler’s office after the case was punted to him from the similarly inept El Paso County DA. There’s a consistent theme emerging in Brauchler’s highest-profile cases of incompetence that lets both crooks and bad cops off the hook. Needless to say, that’s very bad for someone running to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
If he wants to change that impression, we would suggest Brauchler focus on winning some cases.