Robert Gonzales Gets 112 Years for Pimping Foster Child: Justified or Excessive?
Robert Gonzales. Additional photos, videos and more below.
First Judicial District Attorney
In 2013, we told you about Robert Gonzales, who was accused of pimping a foster child for cash and meth. Gonzales has now been given a 112-years-to-life sentence -- a jolt that strikes one of the jurors who found him guilty as excessive in the extreme. And indeed, Thomas White, who was convicted of a similar crime, was sentenced to less than half that total this week -- and he was found to be a habitual criminal. Continue for photos, videos, details and more below.
See also: Robert Gonzales Allegedly Pimped Foster Child for Cash and Meth, published November 8, 2013
As we've reported, the victim in Gonzales's case first encountered him in 2011, when she was just fourteen. Her grandmother told 7News that the introduction took place through a foster family that had been sheltering her.
By year's end, the relationship between Gonzales and the girl had become sexual, reportedly fueled by alcohol and drugs, and the teen, previously a frequent runaway, had apparently convinced herself she was in love with him.
As time went on, however, their pairing is said to have become nonexclusive in a particularly repulsive way. The teen told investigators that Gonzales began advertising on Craigslist, posting nude photos of her as enticement for online pervs to have sex with her at area motels like this Arvada Motel 6:
The forms of compensation included money as well as meth, which Gonzales had started to use. According to the teen, the latter was often supplied by dealers who accepted her sexual favors in lieu of cash.
Her estimate of the number of times something like this happened? Thirty.
In July 2012, the authorities briefly got involved; when checking on the teen's whereabouts, they found her cowering in a basement crawlspace at Gonzales's place. She was taken into protective custody at that time, but ran away and eventually returned to Gonzales, who denied that she was being mistreated.
Denver's Hotel VQ, another place where Gonzales is said to have arranged meetings between men and the teen.
As the years wore on, the teen became more desperate to escape her awful situation. She said she even threw herself from Gonzales's moving vehicle in July 2013. The following Halloween, Gonzales was arrested on a slew of accusations -- among them trafficking in children and a pattern of child sexual assault by someone in a position of trust.
In October, a jury found Gonzales guilty on seventeen counts (most, but not all, of those he faced), and yesterday, following testimony by two members of the now-seventeen-year-old's family, a judge sentenced him to 112 years to life.
The length of this punishment was shocking to one juror, who notes ambiguities in the evidence that troubled some panelists. The juror envisioned a sentence of 25 years or less.
Meanwhile, the White case offers some interesting perspective.
A Google Maps image of the Driftwood Motel, where White was taken into custody.
Granted, the facts that led to White's conviction aren't identical to those that faced Gonzales. But there are certainly similarities.
On July 15, 2012, as we've reported, a police officer spotted a blue Nissan with a broken windshield at the Driftwood Motel, 1443 Oneida Street, and subsequently discovered that the ride had been reported stolen in Kansas City, Missouri.
Shortly thereafter, the Nissan was traced to Room 220, which was occupied by White and two women: Sarah Alvarado and an unnamed teen. The latter claimed to be eighteen, although she was subsequently confirmed to be a year younger, seventeen.
White was taken into custody on suspicion of vehicle theft, while Alvarado allegedly had a controlled substance in her possession. The teen, meanwhile, was taken to Gilliam Youth Services Center, where she sat for an interview with investigators and laid out the story that led her to Denver.
Denver Outlaws / Major League Lacrosse All Star Game
TicketsSat., Dec. 29, 6:00pm
The previous month, as noted in the arrest affidavit below, she said she'd met a pimp named "Fade" at a mall in Arizona. Fade referred to himself as an "inspirational leader," and when he heard that she'd been kicked out of her house after troubles with her mom, he offered to help -- by recruiting her to become a prostitute. But after he'd posted online ads identifying her as "Gigi" and put her to work, she revealed her actual age. "'Fade' told her he was paranoid to have someone underage working for him," the report maintains, "and told her to go back home and come back when she was older."
Instead, she arranged to stay at the home of a friend living in the Arizona community of Chandler, and a few days later, she was contacted by "Tommy," a homie of Fade's who'd seen the ad. (The advertisement appeared on Backpage.com, a site formerly associated with Westword's parent company. However, that relationship was severed several years ago.) He said they could make a lot of money together, the affidavit states -- and instead of balking when the teen told him her age, he allegedly put her on the street.
A Google Maps look at the Phoenix Super 8.
The initial base of operations for White and the teen was a Super 8 motel near Bell Road and Interstate 17 in Phoenix, the report maintains -- and after putting her through what he allegedly characterized as prostitute "boot camp," he decided she was ready for Denver.
Why change locations? The affidavit says White "was a rapper and wanted to come to Denver because he had a concert." But that wasn't the only draw. The teen said White had "heard that good money could be made prostituting on Colfax."
Before long, White, Alvarado and the teen had booked a room in the Driftwood and the two women were hooking on Colfax.
The teen is said to have done approximately four to five tricks that first night, charging between $40 and $50 for either a hand job or a blow job. However, the price was cheaper for three men who are said to have had sex with her in the motel room. She collected $30, $30 and $25, respectively, for her services, the report says.
The stretch of Colfax where the teen is said to have looked for customers.
By the way, White is quoted as claiming that the Nissan that showed up as stolen and originally led police to investigate his activities actually belonged to his "baby's mama" -- and indeed, a Denver jury didn't convict him of car theft. However, he was found guilty in regard to pimping of a child, pandering of a child, procurement of a child, keeping a place of child prostitution and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
White's crimes took place over a considerably shorter period of time than did Gonzales's. However, he was described as "a multi-state offender with a criminal history record in Kansas, Missouri and Colorado," and a habitual-criminal designation established by the Denver District Attorney's Office led to a 48-year sentence imposed this week.
That seems modest compared to Gonzales's 112-years-to-life jolt -- and there are many examples of lesser sentences for cases that involved loss of life and more. In January, for instance, Richard Dolin was sentenced to 26 years for the brutal death of his baby daughter. And in August, Christopher Baker got fourteen years for sexually molesting his own three-year-old daughter and then strangling his best friend, reportedly after an argument over a pizza.
In contrast, Gonzales's victim is still alive and reportedly receiving help to get her life back on track -- and that's great news no matter how one feels about the length of his sentence.
Look below to see a larger look at Gonzales's booking photo and a 7News report broadcast after his 2013 arrest. That's followed by White's mug shot and his arrest affidavit.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.