Benjamin Janicki is just twenty years old -- but he faces the prospect of spending decades behind bars after pleading guilty to multiple counts related to reported sexual assaults on children at Park Hill United Methodist Church's Children's Center. It's a case that attracted national attention, making Janicki a symbol of parental fears.
According to an arrest affidavit on view below, the Janicki investigation was launched after a young girl who attended the Children's Center announced that "Ben" had "licked and tickled her vagina" while her mom was giving her a bath. She subsequently repeated this story to representatives of the Denver Children's Advocacy Center, where she circled the vaginal area when shown an anatomical drawing of a female and said Janicki hadn't stopped groping her even after she asked.
This incident wasn't isolated. By last August, the Denver District Attorney's Office had charged Janicki with six felonies related to three children, and initially refrained from releasing his mug shot following his arrest under the theory that more victims remained undiscovered.
Shortly thereafter, his story spread thanks to "Unanswered Questions," an essay by Josh Tyson that appeared in the New York Times. Turns out Tyson and his wife had decided to place their son, Elias, at the Children's Center -- but the week before the big move, Janicki was busted. That left them with three questions:
"One: Would we be willing to send Elias to a school where something so horrific is said to have happened?
"Two: Can there be a balance between high-security day care and a more relaxed communal environment?
"Three: What are parents to do in this weird, wicked world?"
In the end, the couple decided that placing Elias at the Children's Center would create too much anxiety even though Janicki was gone. They hired a nanny instead.
In the meantime, press reports about Janicki speculated that he could have molested as many as thirteen day-care attendees, and this estimate wasn't far off. Although he pleaded guilty to two counts apiece of first-degree assault and attempted sexual assault on a child, the DA's office notes that the plea agreement names nine victims.
As part of the deal, Janicki faces twenty to forty years in prison on the assault charges. His twelve-year sentences on the attempted sexual assault counts will be suspended on the condition that he completes ten years of supervised sex-offender probation upon his release. He'll be sentenced on July 22.
Look below to get a larger look at Janicki's mug shot, as well as his aforementioned arrest affidavit.
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Wes Specht: Sex assault bust for 'Wild Man' Alameda High coach, 3 staffers put on leave."