Mom, second victim testify in sexual assault trial of Carbondale man
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The mother of one 18-year-old alleged victim of sexual assault along with a second alleged victim in the case who is now 14 years old, both testified that Carbondale resident Gustavo Flores-Rosario, 54, molested the two young girls in different episodes starting about a decade ago, while the girls and Flores-Rosario were neighbors in the same mobile home park in Carbondale.
According to testimony, the alleged assaults took place mostly at Flores-Rosario’s home, although some took place in a vehicle owned by the defendant, and were connected to big neighborhood parties hosted by the defendant for neighboring parents and their children.
Attorney Bill Schubert, representing Flores-Rosario, has used his cross-examination of prosecution witnesses to poke holes in the time-lines cited by Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory, largely by closely questioning the witness about details and dates of the alleged incidents and other aspects of the case.
One clear difficulty encountered by both attorneys is the language barrier presented by many witnesses, who are native Spanish speakers testifying through interpreters, and who often asked both attorneys to repeat their questions and took considerable time in answering.
“The language barrier certainly doesn’t help,” remarked a frustrated Schubert during a break in the proceedings on Tuesday.
The amount of time spent questioning witnesses also was troubling District Judge Daniel Petre, who at one point on Tuesday morning declared, “I think counsel [attorneys for both sides] need to pick up the pace.” He had cautioned the attorneys moments earlier that he was worried “we’re going to run out of time” with only three full days left to finish the trial by Friday at 5 p.m.
The names of the two alleged victims are being withheld because the incidents in question took place when both were minors, each about the age of 9 or 10 at the time. Tuesday was the third day of a six-day trial that began on Nov. 1 with individual interviews of potential jurors.
According to testimony before Judge Petre, and court records, Flores-Rosario on one occasion about 10 years ago tried to touch the private parts of the older of the two girls, who is now 18, by convincing her to show him her appendicitis scar and then slipping his hand into her pants to touch her vagina.
The alleged series of incidents involving the young girl, according to testimony and court documents, happened also when the girl was about 9 years old, roughly four years after the incident involving the older girl.
The mother of the older of the two alleged victims, whose name also is being withheld to avoid identifying the girls, testified on Tuesday that she always believed her daughter’s story, although the mom admitted that she did nothing about it because she was fearful about “getting in trouble” by “being in the situation that we are in now.”
When Schubert pressed the mother about her daughter’s testimony that her mom did not believe her, the mother said, “She thinks that I don’t believe her because I didn’t do anything, but I do believe her.”
Two Carbondale police officers who testified, officers Fred Williams and Michael Zimmerman, together with officer Nino Santiago, investigated the case and found it to be credible enough to arrest Flores-Rosario and present the case to the district attorney for the prosecution.
Williams was pressed by Schubert about details of a “forensic interview” of the older victim by a specialist at the Riverbridge child advocacy center, concerning whether or not the alleged victim was consistent in her claim that Flores-Rosario had actually touched her private parts or had stopped short of that by saying Flores-Rosario’s hand had only gotten “halfway down there.”
Asked for his impression of her story, Williams said simply, “My impression was attempted sexual assault on a child.”
Zimmerman testified for the prosecution that there had been a total of nine forensic interviews conducted in the investigation, to determine if there were any additional victims who would implicate Flores-Rosario, and that none had turned up.
“So all you have is their allegations,” Schubert declared, and the results of a “pretext call” made to the defendant by one of the alleged victims at the behest of police investigators.
In that call, the younger of the alleged victims talked with the defendant in an attempt to elicit a confession or confirmation of her accusations, said Zimmerman, and to “validate” whether formal charges were warranted.
Schubert referred to portions of the transcript of that call, when the defendant suggested the girl needed counseling and asked to talk with the girl’s father about the matter.
Zimmerman agreed with Schubert’s contention that those statements, taken by themselves, would not be viewed as evidence of a crime, indicating that other portions of the “pretext call” led to the filing of charges.
The trial is due to resume today at 8:30 a.m., and is scheduled to continue through Friday.
Flores-Rosario is being held in the Garfield County Jail in lieu of payment of a $25,000 bond, as well as an immigration “hold” ordered by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security.
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