If the Shoe Fits

Did prison officials look the other way while a guard's fetish turned violent?

The arrest warrant for the stalking cases was signed that same day. A search of Christensen's home turned up drawings he'd done of the torture and sodomization of small children. The drawings were on the back of a DOC policy manual. Investigators also found a blond wig that he'd stolen from a Cherry Creek store and other paraphernalia that seemed to be part of his fetish rituals.

Christensen's immediate supervisor told people he was shocked by the arrest. He wrote Christensen a letter, offering to be a character witness. "I have seen fifty or a hundred people get into trouble over the last fifteen years I've been with DOC, but none have ever affected me like this," he wrote. "I like to think I'm a pretty good judge of character."

But a sergeant at the prison would later tell investigators he wasn't shocked at all. After the arrest, he reminded the supervisor of a 1998 incident, when the sergeant had caught Christensen running out of a women's bathroom, nervously wiping the front of his pants. In the bathroom was a female inmate with her breasts exposed. The sergeant claimed to have reported the incident to Christensen's supervisor, but no written record of the incident exists.

Mike Gorman

Salinas didn't report her rape for months. When she did, she also admitted to a consensual sexual relationship with another corrections officer. Christensen's supervisor tried hard to discredit her, according to Salinas's attorney, Julia Yoo.

"This has been devastating to her," Yoo says. "It wasn't just the rape itself but the way it was handled when she came forward. Nothing was explained to her. She was put in the hole and felt totally isolated. She didn't have access to her legal mail or letters from her mother. And other officers were retaliating against her. She had no idea Christensen had even been removed or arrested."

Attorneys for Shoemaker and other DOC officials say they couldn't predict that Christensen would assault inmates, but Yoo insists they should have taken more precautions. "They knew he was a predator and a dangerous person," she says. "Would they have taken that kind of risk if the potential victim was somebody related to them? I don't think so."

Christensen denied the rape, but he was found guilty of sexual assault by a Denver jury and sentenced to five years to life. He pleaded guilty to burglary and stalking counts in the Keds cases and got six years, to be served concurrently with the rape sentence.

Salinas, Yoo says, still has anxiety attacks when she hears keys rattling, as if her attacker is coming back for her. Now doing time at a private prison, Christensen has his own demons to confront -- including the hazards of being an ex-guard surrounded by inmates.

"I hope they don't know much about him," Yoo says. "Even though I'm disgusted by what I've seen in this case, nobody deserves to be attacked in prison. I wish he had received some help. His life didn't have to spiral out of control like this."

for related stories visit our "Crime and Punishment" archive.

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