No jail time for man who paid for sex with 17-year-old in Glenwood Springs
Ron Braden will avoid prison time after pleading guilty Wednesday for having sex with a 17-year-old prostitute in Glenwood Springs.
The plea deal also means the victim in the case will not have to relive the trauma of being trafficked for sex in a criminal trial, according to a letter written by the victim’s mother.
Braden pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which in this case involved an underage person in possession of marijuana, which carried a potential 2-6 year prison sentence, and up to 12 years in aggravated circumstances.
Braden also pleaded guilty to engaging with a prostitute, a class 1 misdemeanor, which could have resulted in an 18-month jail sentence.
Neither plea requires Braden to register as a sex offender.
Judge Denise Lynch sentenced Braden to a total of 5 years supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.
Braden admitted he had sex with the minor victim at a Glenwood Springs hotel in July 2017.
Damara Hester, who pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor in October for her role in the prostitution ring, is scheduled for sentencing in January.
Braden apologized for his behavior in a statement to the judge.
“To my family, my friends, my team, my colleagues at work, and most certainly the victim, I am sorry. I screwed up, plain and simple,” Braden said.
Braden insisted that if he had known the girl was underage, he would not have had sex with her.
“If I would have known this girl was 17 years old, we wouldn’t be here. I absolutely would have helped get her out of that situation,” Braden said.
Prosecutor Janet Drake of the Colorado Attorney General’s office said Braden was in the habit of blaming the victim.
“He’s done that from the beginning, making arguments that he didn’t know her age,” Drake told the judge.
The facts of the case indicate that prostitution contributes to trafficking of minors, and that those seeking to pay for sex should be punished, according to Drake.
“Without sex buyers, we wouldn’t have a market” for exploitation, Drake said. Prosecutors had asked for jail time as punishment.
Braden’s attorney, Alaurice Tafoya-Modi, said her client had been punished in losing his job, and from the publicity that the case has received.
“This last year has not been easy for him,” Tafoya-Modi said. Braden’s name “has been plastered in the newspaper” and “he lost a job that was part of his identity.”
“You have been punished. Your reputation is gone. You’ve lost your house, you lost a good job,” Lynch said.
“There’s no doubt that the victim in this case was vulnerable,” Tafoya-Modi said, but added: “There was someone else that was vulnerable in this case, and that was Mr. Braden.”
Even though Braden had a daughter approximately the same age as the victim, it is not reasonable to expect him to know that the victim was a minor in part because of her race, his attorney argued.
“The victim is African American, and there are cross-racial identification issues,” Tafoya-Modi said.
Tafoya-Modi said that Braden was seeking comfort after a breakup, and spent time with Hester and later the victim because he thought they were adults.
“There are people out here looking to have sex with a minor… but that is not the facts here,” Tafoya-Modi said.
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