Update: Former Berthoud police officer Jeremy Yachik has been sentenced to 32 years in prison for two counts of child sex abuse. He will serve sixteen years for each offense. His victims in these crimes have not been publicly identified, but Yachik made a statement in court that he is "very open to treatment, and very remorseful of past decisions that have affected my family.... I'm definitely not a threat to anyone."
The length of his prison jolt, which could have been limited to eight years, suggests that the court has a very different opinion. Continue for our previous coverage of Yachik's most recent crimes and a bizarre child-abuse case that first put him in the public spotlight.
Update, 7:10 a.m. December 13, 2016: More than three years ago, Berthoud police officer Jeremy Yachik became the target of an investigation by cops in Loveland over alleged child abuse caught on video.
Yachik was subsequently charged with multiple child-abuse counts — and an arrest affidavit alleged punishment of his teenage daughter that included binding her hands with zip ties, locking her in the laundry room and force-feeding her hot sauce for sins such as eating carrots stored in the family refrigerator. But upon pleading guilty to a single abuse count, he received a sentence that didn't involve jail time.
Things have changed. More than a year after our July 15, 2014, publication of news about Yachik's punishment (the report has been incorporated into this post), the former officer was hit with new and even more serious allegations involving child sex assault. A jury has now found him guilty on two of those accusations — a determination that could result in Yachik spending the rest of his life behind bars.
As we've reported, the original accusations against Yachik were made by his ex-girlfriend, Ashley Saint-Roberts.
According to the aforementioned police report, Saint-Roberts contacted the Loveland Police Department in late September 2013. During an interview, she "detailed years of physical abuse" allegedly suffered by her and Yachik's daughter when the latter was fifteen. She also shared a video of a man she identified as Yachik punching and choking a girl. The full video is encompassed in news coverage below, but here's a screen capture from the clip, which we've lightened to make the image easier to see:
Saint-Roberts told Loveland investigators that she'd shared the video with Yachik's boss, Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson, but no action was taken. Afterward, she quoted Yachik as telling her, "Nice try...trying to get me fired.... It's not going to work."
Likewise, Weld County Child Protection dropped an investigation into Yachik's alleged abuse after being contacted by Saint-Roberts. But she didn't give up, sharing the video with what are described as "multiple news and police agencies."
Of these, the Loveland PD took the lead, interviewing Yachik's daughter in conjunction with the Child Advocacy Center in Fort Collins. The police report notes that the teenager "disclosed multiple incidents of child abuse she has suffered. She disclosed being choked, force-fed hot sauce, having her hands bound with plastic zip ties, being locked in rooms, punched, kicked, beaten with ropes, handcuffed and being restricted to eating food."
She added that these incidents had "occurred over several years and were almost a daily occurrence."
In a second interview, the teen got even more specific.
During chat number two, the daughter said she was highlighted in the Saint-Roberts-provided video, which was actually more than a year old; it was shot in July 2012. She said she had been punished "for eating carrots out [of] the family refrigerator," adding that "this punishment consisted of JEREMY sitting on top of [redacted] and choking her, punching her and eventually kicking her in the side of her body."
In addition, the report states that between August and September of 2012, the teen reported "having her hands bound to her back with plastic zip ties and being secluded to a laundry room in the home. A broom was placed outside of the laundry room door as a trigger to make noise if she attempted to escape."
The teen also recounted an incident in which she was forced to eat "ghost pepper sauce," described as measuring "approximately 1,000,000 Scolville units...approximately ten times hotter than habanero peppers." The reason: She'd been accused of lying.
What did Yachik have to say about these claims? The arrest affidavit recaps an interview in which he's said to have voluntarily participated — and during the conversation, the narrative quotes him as admitting to "restriction of food...force-feeding hot sauce and the use of zip ties to bind [redacted] hands."
He also acknowledged that he was the person seen in the video, the report says.
Shortly thereafter, Yachik was charged with four misdemeanor counts of child abuse and one misdemeanor allegation of false imprisonment. Meanwhile, an investigation into a potential coverup by Berthoud Police Chief Johnson continued — and the repercussions were considerable.
As noted by the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Johnson ultimately resigned and the Berthoud Police Department was dissolved. Now, law enforcement in the community is handled by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
As for Yachik, he pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor child abuse in April 2014, and the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that he was sentenced to three years probation, thirty days in a work-release program and eighty hours of community service.
On top of that, he could have no contact with his daughter, though she seemed open to the idea at some point in the future. As quoted by the Reporter-Herald at a July 2014 hearing, she said she wants to have a relationship with Yachik after he "gets help," adding, "I don't hate him as a person. I hate the things that he did."
Just over a year later, in September 2015, more charges were made against Yachik — sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, and sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse, both felonies. As noted by the Reporter-Herald, Yachik was taken into custody on a $100,000 bond that was cut in half the following November. Then, just thirteen days after he paid the reduced sum and was released, on November 25 of that year, Yachik was arrested on domestic-violence-related third-degree assault in Weld County.
This last beef was dismissed in February, but the child sex-abuse accusations continued to progress through the system in Larimer County — and on Friday, December 9, a jury found Yachik guilty on both counts.
He's scheduled to learn his fate at a hearing on January 26, 2017. The sentencing range is from eight years to life in prison.
Below, see a Fox31 package from the period when news about Yachik first broke. The piece includes excerpts from the video footage described above; the original video has been taken offline. That's followed by the arrest affidavits and our initial report about Yachik, featuring even more documents and details.
Original report, October 2013:
The beautiful Town of Berthoud is the last place most people would expect a scandal. But one's erupted in the community, with Police Chief Glenn Johnson and Officer Jeremy Yachik both suspended and the entire department under investigation by authorities in Larimer County.
What's at the heart of this turmoil? Town officials are keeping mum at this point, but numerous reports point to a domestic dispute involving Yachik — one that includes a video of him allegedly abusing his daughter that's said to have prompted no action by his boss. See the clip and much more below.
In 2011, Yachik was nominated for an all-star contest conducted in conjunction with the television program America's Most Wanted. The page pertaining to Yachik includes the photo seen here and the following mini-bio:
Jeremy Yachik began his career as a fire fighter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was passionate about fighting fires however; his desire to help people and to provide a more stable living situation for his daughter influenced his decision to enroll in law enforcement training. "I knew I had to do something, I wanted to give my daughter the life she deserved." Jeremy Yachik was a single father at the time due to unforeseen circumstances and yet he still managed to graduate as Valedictorian from the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy in Trinidad, CO. Jeremy has since worked for the Las Animas County Sheriff's Office, Trinidad Police Department, and now works as a police officer for the Berthoud Police Department. He is also a Hazardous Materials Specialist and an instructor for Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear and Explosives. Since 2008 Officer Yachik and the Berthoud Police Department have also helped to reduce the number of community calls reporting burglary and vehicle break -ins in! Jeremy and the Berthoud Police department participate in a toy and food drive during the holidays, in which they collect and wrap toys and food for families in need. Last year they helped to fundraise almost $10,000 for the needy families of their community. Officer Yachik says that if he can help just one person, he has knows he has made a difference in the community. "Most people are concerned about feelings of self worth; we get a feeling of something bigger, a feeling of community worth." Jeremy says that it is rewarding to watch someone that he once arrested, turn their life around. According to the father of three, children whose parents are not involved have a higher chance of becoming juvenile delinquents; although he loves his job, he and his fiancée make sure to stay involved in the lives of their children.
Not mentioned in this blurb is information uncovered by the Loveland Reporter-Herald about past offenses on Yachik's record, including a 1996 conviction for falsely obtaining services (a fourth-degree felony), repeated suspensions of his drivers license, or his resignation from the Trinidad police force just over a week after being suspended in the wake of domestic violence allegations against him.
As for the fiancée noted above, she's presumably the woman who contacted Fox31 with accusations against her ex-boyfriend, Yachik. According to her, she sent a video showing Yachik smacking and kicking his daughter to Berthoud Police Chief Johnson and other officials last April, but no action against the officer was taken.
The time of inaction against Yachik is over. Members of the police department in Loveland, where Yachik lives, reportedly served a search warrant against the Berthoud force a couple of weeks back, seizing Chief Johnson's computer in the process. Meanwhile, Berthoud Town administrator Michael Hart suspended both Johnson and Yachik while the investigation into both the abuse allegation and a possible cover-up are investigated by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
On October 11, as rumblings about problems with the police were starting to reach the public, the Town of Berthoud posted the following on its website:
In the last several days the Town of Berthoud has received numerous inquiries regarding allegations made against several of its police officers. The Town has not substantiated any of the allegations, and the police officers of the Town, like other citizens, are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. However, in order to instill confidence in the citizens of the Town, and to ensure that the police department is fully capable of serving and protecting Town members, the officers against whom the allegations have been made have been placed on temporary administrative leave. In the interim, the Town has engaged the services of an independent agency to conduct an internal investigation and to assist the Berthoud police department in their day to day operations. While the investigation is pending the Town is not able to provide any further details, or to comment further.
The last assertion proved not to be entirely true.
On Monday, the Berthoud town website shared five more pieces of information intended "to reassure Berthoud's citizens in light of recent news reports concerning the Berthoud Police Department." They read:
1. The Larimer County District Attorney and the Loveland Police Department have both advised Town officials of the existence of a criminal investigation of two police officers, but no charges have been filed and no details have been released to the Town;
2. The Larimer County Sheriff's Office has, at the request of Town staff, agreed to supply an interim police chief and direct police operations until the Town is able to ascertain the nature and foundation of the allegations and investigation being conducted with respect to two Berthoud Police officers;
3. Such interim action has been made pursuant to the recommendation of Town staff, and a formal interim agreement with Larimer county will be considered at the Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees tomorrow evening;
4. Under these circumstances, it is appropriate to bring the Department under outside supervision in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Equally important, the interim Chief loaned from the Sheriff's Department will not be distracted from the performance of police obligations by an investigation in which he would be in any way involved.
5. Police services and protection will not be impacted, and the Town can expect no change in the time or quality of the services received.
Next development? At a town meeting last night, Berthoud's board of trustees named Larimer County Sheriff's Office Sergeant John Feyen as interim police chief for the length of the investigation, but offered few new details about what's happening with Johnson or Yachik.
However, town officials did release two new documents — a resolution and a "memorandum of understanding for police" related to the inquiry. See both below, along with a 7News report on the latest weird twists.