A former Denver police officer who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman after a date will not serve any prison time, despite statements by both the woman he assaulted and a judge that a more severe punishment was deserved.
Johnny Leon-Alvarez was sentenced Monday to four years of probation as part of a deal he reached with prosecutors in exchange for pleading guilty to felony sexual assault. If the former officer is successful, the case will be dismissed and will be eligible to be sealed.
The woman he assaulted said she objected to the plea deal being offered. The Denver Post is not naming the woman because she is a victim of sexual assault.
“There should be more penalties involved than just probation,” the woman said in a court hearing Monday morning.
The victim told investigators that she met Leon-Alvarez in December 2019 after she called police regarding an argument she had with a previous partner, according to Leon-Alvarez’s arrest warrant affidavit. Leon-Alvarez responded to the call and later contacted her via Facebook and her cell phone before going on a date on Jan. 16, 2020.
When Leon-Alvarez dropped her off at her home, she tried to say goodnight but he came inside her home and sexually assaulted her, his arrest affidavit states. The woman’s roommate told investigators that she heard the woman say “no” and “please stop” several times.
Leon-Alvarez was employed as a Denver police officer at the time of the crime. He was fired six days after his arrest on Jan. 17, 2020.
Denver District Court Judge Eric Johnson accepted the plea deal. But Johnson said the case was disturbing, especially since Leon-Alvarez met the woman while responding to a call regarding a domestic violence crime against her.
“I see this as a prison case,” Johnson said. “The breach of trust by a police officer is incredibly problematic.”
Danielle Robinson, a prosecutor with the Denver District Attorney’s Office, said in court that prosecutors offered the plea deal because they worried about the woman’s stability should the trial proceed and feared that defense attorneys would attack her character.
Leon-Alvarez spoke briefly before sentencing and promised to be a better person, but did not speak to the woman directly.
The woman told the judge the assault upended her life and destroyed her trust in law enforcement. She now has panic attacks and anxiety that have made it difficult for her to work.
“I just really thought he’d be different,” she said. “I thought police officers were better than that.”
Johnson said he would imprison Leon-Alvarez if he broke any of the rules.
Leon-Alvarez was arrested for drunk driving on July 14 while out on bond in the sexual assault case, court records show. He pleaded guilty to that charge, but his bond was not revoked.
“You can bank on it that if you come back before me on a revocation, you’re going to prison,” Johnson said.
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