2nd victim in group home sex assault, but bond is lowered
Since the arrest of Jose Ignacio Echeverria, who’s accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman at a Glenwood Springs group home where he worked, investigators have found a second and possibly a third victim, according to prosecutors.
During a bond hearing Tuesday, Judge James Boyd made it easier for Echeverria to get out of jail — citing his lack of criminal history and ties to the community.
Echeverria is a 54-year-old Glenwood Springs man who worked as an overnight caretaker at Mountain Valley Developmental Services’ group home on Mountain Shadow Drive.
A developmentally disabled woman who stays at the home told investigators that Echeverria came into her room one night in April and sexually assaulted her.
The defendant was the only staffer on duty at the group home the night of the incident, according to another Mountain Valley employee.
Bruce Christensen, the organization’s executive director, said Echeverria, who had no criminal history prior to being hired, worked with six to eight of Mountain Valley’s clients. He primarily worked at the Glenwood Springs group home, but he occasionally also worked at its Rifle location on Moki Avenue.
The second alleged victim in this case is a woman in her 60s also living at the Glenwood group home, said Assistant District Attorney Anne Norrdin. No information was available about the potential third victim.
Echeverria now faces two counts of crimes against at-risk adults (sexual assault), a class 2 felony.
Evidence of additional victims prompted Norrdin to ask for an increase in bond, which was initially set at $50,000.
Norrdin said she doesn’t make a practice of asking for increases at bond hearings, which are typically set for the judge to consider a reduction in bond, but given the new evidence she asked for it to be increased to $100,000.
Public Defender Molly Owens asked that the judge reduce Echeverria’s bail to a personal recognizance bond, which would allow him to walk out of jail without paying a bond as long as he makes all of his court dates.
In a packed courtroom, Owens noted Echeverria’s significant support in the community and lack of criminal history.
Norrdin said, though, that the nature of these types of crimes is that they involve a dark side of a person that few, if any, members of the community would know about.
Brenda Scrimsher, support services director at Mountain Valley, argued against any reduction in bond. Scrimsher said the three women have recently been showing more signs of severe traumatization than immediately after the incidents.
Mountain Valley staff is trying to reassure them that they are safe because Echeverria is incarcerated, and if he bonded out it would be detrimental to them, she said.
One of Mountain Valley’s goals is to help make its clients as independent as possible, and Scrimsher was concerned about the effect it would have on these women if they came across Echeverria in the community.
Boyd, however, found enough mitigating circumstances to reduce Echeverria’s bond to $35,000.
Echeverria was already placed under a protection order barring him from contacting the initial victim in this case, and Boyd added the second woman to that order.
The prosecution was also concerned that Echeverria would be a flight risk, partly because he has family in Mexico, where he’s originally from. At Norrdin’s request, Boyd made it a condition of bond that Echeverria surrender his passport to the DA’s office if he bonds out. He had not bonded out as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Echeverria will next be in court on June 28.
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.