Gary Haney likes things big. Big portions, big tits, big money. Big ideas, too. To be the Larry Flynt of the Rocky Mountains -- that was his big dream.
But right now, Gary Haney's in big trouble.
On December 9, 2005, the Denver District Attorney's Office issued a warrant for the arrest of Gary Don Haney on charges of aggravated robbery and second-degree assault, identifying him as the owner of Touch Companions, a company that operated out of a house at 3121 York Street.
According to a police report, Haney had called a female employee to the residence two nights earlier and accused her of "conducting professional business on the side and therefore taking money from him." He then struck the woman on the head multiple times with a baseball bat and repeatedly punched her in the head, body and back. But he avoided hitting her in the face.
The woman told police that Steve Papson, Haney's business colleague and the owner of the house, began to close doors and windows so that her screams wouldn't wake the neighbors. Papson then took her purse into a bedroom while Haney removed $560 from her jacket pocket, telling her that she owed him $5,000 more for all of the calls she had stolen. Haney threatened to kill her and her daughter if she went to the police, the woman reported.
As the sordid story spread throughout Denver's underground escort industry -- which, despite its product, is guided more by standard business practices than street-hustling principles -- the reaction was a mix of shock and disappointment. The 34-year-old Haney had spent almost two decades in the adult-entertainment business and had, just a few years before, been the owner of Colorado's premier escort agency. Although people knew that Haney had slid downhill recently, no one would have pegged him as a low-life, woman-beating street pimp. It didn't jive with the image he'd built of himself as the cunning but kindhearted Big Daddy of Denver's nightlife.
Haney not only likes things big, he's big himself -- over 350 pounds on a 5'9" frame. But his stable of female companions who exchanged sex for big cash didn't seem to mind. Nor did his business associates. If you get big enough, Haney figured, no one can touch you -- unless you want them to, of course.
Living the high life of lofts, limos and limitless drugs, Haney could see his big idea so clearly: a media empire built on man's most primal instinct. A whole world of sex -- real sex -- just a click or a phone call away. He wasn't looking for mainstream acceptance of the "adult lifestyle," but he did think there were ways to make it more classy, safe and profitable. It could be done. And then he would leave it all behind for something even bigger.
Instead, Haney got trapped in the underbelly of the sex world. For all his Big Daddy ideas, his big needs -- for sex, for drugs, for money to buy the drugs -- landed him in jail, just a big pimp behind bars.
"Marlon Brando on Acid! is how a good friend of mine, who by the way is one hell of a tattoo artist, recently described me."
Thus begins Haney's long-abandoned home page onmyspace.com, the web community popular with the under-35 crowd. His stats include:
Interests: Travel, nightclubbing and making money.
Music: House, Trance, Rock, Jazz
Here for: Networking, Dating, Serious Relationships, Friends
Body type: 5'9"/ More to love!
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
For his income, Haney lists $150,000 to $250,000 a year, earned as the CEO of Touch Hypermedia, an "Internet technologies" firm based in Denver.
"It wasn't until about a year ago that I truly understood just how kick-ass this life has been," continues Haney's About Me blurb. "And to tell you the truth, it doesn't seem to be slowing down much. I have seen, felt, and experienced more in the last decade than I believe most people will experience their whole lives."
Gary Haney's experiences started on November 18, 1971. His mother, Lesa, had gotten pregnant at age fourteen, when she had sex for the first time; fearing that she wouldn't be able to care for a child on her own, she'd agreed to put the baby up for adoption. But after giving birth, she changed her mind. So she hid the tiny boy under her gown and smuggled him out of the hospital. He'd barely left the womb, and already Haney was an accomplice in a desperate caper.
As Haney grew, so did his level of misbehavior. By the time he was a preteen, his constant hell-raising was too much for his mom to handle. He was sent to live with his father, but Dad wasn't much of a disciplinarian. When the boy came home after a day of running wild, his father gave him a beer instead of a lecture.
"I quickly came to the realization that causing shit is fun, but it isn't so much fun if you don't have someone telling you not to do it," Haney told Westword shortly after he moved to Denver. (Haney has refused repeated interview requests for this story, which is based on recent interviews with more than a dozen of his former business associates, employees, friends and former friends, as well as on "Breast Reduction," originally published in the November 25, 1999, issue of Westword.)
When Haney turned fourteen, his mother enrolled him at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The religious reform school gave him structure, and he excelled in acting and debate. In this Christ-centered environment, he even considered devoting his life to speaking the word of the Lord. He was already developing the skills of a natural salesman -- the ability to convince while appearing sincere. He claims to have graduated as class valedictorian.
At nineteen, Haney had a low, gravelly rumble of a voice. Combined with his West Texas accent, the distinctive growl got him a job as a DJ at a small Texas radio station, where he worked the graveyard shift. The post was not as exciting as he'd imagined, though, and neither was the five-bucks-an-hour pay. He had a female friend who danced at a local strip joint called the Crazy Horse, and sometimes he'd pick her up after work. One night, the manager recognized Haney's voice from the radio and offered him a job deejaying at both of his strip clubs.
The gig changed Haney's life forever. "He started working for a strip club," remembers a former associate, "and his stripper friend wanted to start doing some things on the side, so he kind of looked after her. Then it kind of took off from there."
For a time, Haney stuck with the club for his main source of income, just supervising the "things on the side." Within a year, he was managing the club and "doing drugs and doing strippers," he said, until the pace became too much. So at 22, he moved to New York City with a girlfriend, looking for a clean start. But he was drawn back to the business he knew best, and began managing Stringfellows, a strip club. Soon Haney was opening new clubs in cities along the East Coast.
But once again, he burned out. This time he made a complete about-face and moved back to Texas. He took a 9-to-5 job in customer service for Microsoft.
That didn't last: Embracing a starched-collar environment just wasn't Haney's style. Before long, he'd taken a job selling ads for a local adult-entertainment throwaway called Night Moves. After the editor was put in jail for reasons that Haney couldn't -- or wouldn't -- elaborate on, he was tossed the role of editor. The position ended when the rag went belly-up.
Haney began selling ads for Adult Stars, a free sex publication with outlets in multiple cities that survived by courting businesses that other media outlets wouldn't work with: escort agencies, strip clubs, sex shops and other adult services. The company's owners were so impressed with Haney's ambition and sales ability that they sent the 28-year-old to Colorado in 1999 to start a similar rag in Denver. But the Mile High version of Adult Stars lasted only two months.
At the time, the free adult-magazine market on the Front Range was dominated by the Rocky Mountain Oyster, a mainstay of retro '70s soft-core smut printed on gritty newsprint. Haney knew that if he wanted to get a slice of the market, he was going to have to go bigger. He got financial backing from some of the then-owners of Christal's, a chain of local sex shops owned by Golden-based ZJ Gifts, to start Rocky Mountain Go-Go. Haney figured he needed to distinguish his publication from the Oyster, so he printed the magazine on expensive, glossy stock in four colors and offered more content, including interviews with porn actresses. He also penned his own page-two column that included pictures of him advancing his average-guy-getting-lucky strategy: Gary with a lollipop girl, Gary getting a kiss from a dominatrix, Gary palming a pair of enormous stripper tits.
After five issues, though, it became clear that this approach wasn't working, either. The sex market wasn't big enough, and the city "just wasn't ready for the type of adult publication I was going to put out there," Haney explained.
He decided to move his magazine from the adult-entertainment niche into one that appealed to young urbanites looking for a good time. While it was still sex-friendly, the bi-weekly -- renamed simply Go-Go -- was enlarged to a tabloid format and filled with articles about local musicians, artists and upcoming events.
Haney asked Bobby Lee Black, a former minor-league pro wrestler, voice actor, tattoo artist and ex-con, to write a food column. With only an eighth-grade education, Black had zero experience in writing, let alone food writing. But Haney saw something in the recovered drug addict that he thought fit with Go-Go's new image, and "Tattooed Food Critic" became one of the magazine's longest-running features.
"He gave me a big opportunity that nobody else in their right mind would've ever thought of doing," Black says. "That's just the type of mind he had. He was a lateral thinker. He had the ability to see beyond the surface of things."
Go-Go's investors at Christal's weren't as enamored with Haney's approach, and their stake was soon bought out by Trygve Lode, a local actor, bodybuilder and independent filmmaker who also owns a venture-capital firm called Midgard. The magazine grew, hiring an editor and art director. But Go-Go still struggled to define its identity, and which direction it should take became an ongoing debate between Haney and his new owners. In November 2000, Haney stopped down as publisher, saying that the two sides simply had different notions of where Go-Go should go.
But there was more to it than that, according to Darlene Cysper, CEO of Midgard. The other owners felt that Haney wasn't "keeping track of the finances and getting the salespeople on board that we wanted to keep," she says, "and that's essential when you're ad-supported only." She also cites a fair amount of friction between editor Chris Magyar and Haney. "I think that if anything, he was overly ambitious," she adds. "I think that sometimes his plans extended his capabilities to carry them out. And he was a big dreamer."
And Haney had big dreams for his next project, a sure-as-shit gold mine. He walked away from Go-Go and never looked back at publishing. Instead, he returned to the adult-entertainment business, an industry he understood -- and enjoyed.
"Once Gary has done something to the best of his ability, he wants to move on and do something else," says Black, who continued writing his food column until Go-Go went out of business in 2003. He was the one who tagged Haney as "Marlon Brando on Acid," and while obesity was the most obvious characteristic Haney shared with the late actor, Black had something else in mind when he made the remark to his former boss.
"There's a level of both talent and tragedy that you see in Marlon Brando," he explains. "And that's Gary. He's a Scorpio to the edge of his bones."
"First and foremost I am a sinner. In the purest form of the word," continues Haney's About Me on myspace. "I believe in excess, indulgence, and decadence. I live fast, love hard, and take no prisoners. I believe that being sexy is about a whole lot more than sex. And that sex is about a whole lot more than orgasm. Mine is the strangest life I have ever known."
In December 2000, less than a month after Haney left Go-Go, a woman we'll call April went to see Haney for a job interview. Sitting in his well-furnished, comfortable Lakewood home, April told Haney that she had never worked for an escort agency before. He asked to see her ID, even though it was clear that the 35-year-old woman sitting in front of him was of legal age. Then he told her to strip. This allowed him to both check out her body, which looked pretty good, and check for wires. Once Haney was confident everything was clean, he asked April why she wanted to work for Colorado Companions.
"For money," she replied. April had three kids and a home, and her minimum-wage job just wasn't cutting it.
The real nudge that inspired her to become an escort? "Spite," April says now. "I did it for spite." Her husband had proposed that they have a threesome, and "I said, 'So you want me to fuck other people? Well, fine, then I will.'"
And she did, working for Haney.
Colorado Companions operated as a "full-service" escort agency -- and that didn't mean the girls would check your oil and fill your tires. It meant customers got sex.
Prostitution is nothing new in Denver, of course, but the industry has shifted over the past twenty years. Once largely confined to urban red-light districts, the flesh trade has become more of a suburban phenomenon. Rather than street corners, sex workers are usually located on the Internet or by phone. This migration occurred partly as a result of police efforts to crack down on prostitution on Colfax Avenue, but it also reflected technological advances that made it easier to hook up with the professional call-girl congregation and at the same time avoid the dangers of law enforcement, robbery, pimps and hard-core drug users.
Online communities have become home base for the escort industry. In Denver, users of The Other Board (www.theotherboard.com) post info about recent busts by law enforcement (LE), rank adult-service providers (ASP), and trade tips on where johns (known here as "clients" or "hobbyists") can get checked for STDs on the sly. Escort services like Haney's post on these boards while also slipping in advertisements alongside those for legitimate adult services in publications ranging from Westword to Dex, whose current edition lists a total of 224 services with names like Castle Rock Cuties, Erotic Remedies and Zexy Blondes. The vast majority of these are small outfits that use multiple names to generate more calls, while others are "independents," with the escort fielding her own calls. Only a handful are bigger businesses with more than a dozen females working for them.
Haney saw that, and felt there was an untapped market for top-tier escorts. Using the media and business skills he'd polished at Go-Go, he sought only premium females who could go for $250 to $300 per hour. He expected them to be on time and conduct themselves in a professional manner -- after all, he considered himself a businessman who just happened to be in the business of fulfilling sexual fantasies. The more reputable his agency, the more high-paying clients it would attract -- and the more bucks an escort would get for her bang.
Haney knew that the type of consumer most likely to patronize an upscale sex service would be attracted by a sharp web presence, so he built an elaborate website and filled it with pictures and statistics about each of his escorts. He promised his clients complete confidentiality.
Within a year, Haney's Colorado Companions was the biggest escort agency in the Rocky Mountains, operating around the clock, seven days a week, with more than a dozen employees.
"He had changed the whole industry for Denver," says one former business associate. "Kind of made it more upscale, kind of made it nicer. He tried to be, like, the Playboy of escort companies."
Colorado Companions "was the premier elite service," April remembers. "We were the first ones to get pics on the web. The business was always there. I didn't have any downtime." Within a few weeks of starting, she was making $3,000 to $5,000 a week and working close to forty hours. That Christmas, Haney gave all of his employees expensive gift baskets filled with posh body lotions and powder puffs.
Escort appointments could be reserved by the hour, or even by the weekend; clients would leave the money as a "tip" on a dish or tray by the door. Escorts got to keep two-thirds of the money, with a third going to the agency. And at the end of every day, the girls were required to make their drop to Haney.
"After I worked for him for a while, I wouldn't make my drop every day," April says. "I would drop every couple days, and he was fine with that."
Haney "raised the bar" on what was expected of a well-run agency, according to one associate. In the beginning, Colorado Companions operated out of Haney's home, where "phone girls" would answer calls from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Haney's employees learned how to work the phones right; their job was to make potential clients feel comfortable, and to also make sure they weren't cops. And a nearby hotel made arranging meetings easy.
April remembers Haney as "all business" in those days, and says he took many measures to ensure his employees' safety when they went on the rare outcall.
Even though she was happy with the money, April quit in February 2001, after just a few months on the job, when her marriage became too chaotic.
Haney quickly filled her position and soon added a dozen more employees. By 2003, he was buying full-page ads in Buzz magazine, a glossy successor to Go-Go, touting his agency as "prompt and discreet," with three in-call locations spread throughout the city and beauties by the names of Hazie, Taj and Maya. Sometimes the girls actually looked like their pictures; sometimes the glamour shots resulted from the photographer's clever use of angles and lighting.
Now living in a nice loft in the Baker neighborhood, Haney had found business success, but he still craved legitimacy. Larry Flynt might be a self-proclaimed smut-peddling scumbag, but his offices were corporate and his business on the up-and-up. Haney, by comparison, was still relegated to the shadows because of the nature of his adult-entertainment niche.
He decided to get away from the life, and headed for Costa Rica with plans to retire there and explore his spiritual side. He was curious about Eastern religions and had a tattoo of the Buddha etched on his back. He'd gone to the Burning Man festival and taken pictures of the freaky, naked revelers cavorting in swirls of gray dust. He'd always hoped that the path of excess might lead to the palace of wisdom -- and now it seemed that the palace might be a tropical paradise.
But there was trouble in paradise: Haney left one of his phone girls in charge of Colorado Companions, and within a month, money stopped flowing into his bank account. He got word from other employees that the woman he'd entrusted with day-to-day dealings was now stealing money from the company. Haney returned to Denver to set things back in order.
He was bored, anyway. He ran the woman out of town, got Colorado Companions back on track and started thinking big. His next plan was a project called X411, a coast-to-coast service that would function as an online gateway and trusted source of information for every type of adult service imaginable in a particular market -- like a Zagat guide for the sexually ambitious. He did a soft launch for Colorado with the now-defunct www.denver.x411.com, buying ads in local publications that touted such features as interviews with a "Vixen of the Month," printable maps and coupons to spas or strip clubs, and consumer reviews on everything from "best female provider" to the "best nude retreats."
But Haney couldn't find investors to launch the website nationally, and he eventually gave up on his X411 scheme. Still, he knew that there was a lot of money -- legal money -- to be made in multimedia adult services. And he liked to spend that money. When Haney would take the occasional trip out of town, he "went all out," a former friend remembers, sometimes spending $3,000 in one night on booze, limos and drugs. Haney liked cocaine and ecstasy, but never did them during business hours, he says.
"He wanted everyone to know that he owned Colorado Companions," remembers another friend. "He threw around a ton of money. I used to party with him all the time, and I never spent a penny. It was always him. He'd invite us out to P.T.'s Gold Club, Rise. It was always table, bottle service. He picked up everything. He's a huge guy, and -- this is his words -- 'The only way a guy like me is going to get pussy is if I pay for it.' And he did it by owning an agency, and he did it by throwing money around."
More from Gary Haney's About Me blurb: "In my life I have managed to be a preacher, a politician, a publisher, and a pornographer. I have lived as far east as New York, NY, as far west as Black Rock City, NV and as far south as Quepos, Costa Rica. I have totaled small vehicles in all of those areas and lived to tell the stories. I have loved beautiful women, and had them love me back. And good friends, well where I come from they always used to say that if you have 5 good friends when you die, then you die happy. I'll just say I could have died a thousand deaths by now. I have been truly blessed. By whom I have not figured out yet. But, whoever it was, well they loved me too."
While some myspace.com users have hundreds or even thousands of friends linked to their pages, Haney had only two links: one to a hardcore music band out of San Diego and the other to "Ultra Nightlife," a Las Vegas party-promotion group.
Haney last logged onto his myspace account in July 2004. That's about the time he began smoking meth frequently, friends say.
And that wasn't the only change. His beautiful loft, located in a renovated church, was always filled with hollow-eyed, drugged-out escort girls. Haney had once been rather careful of whom he let into his inner circle, friends say, and now it seemed he had all these sketchballs around.
But still, Haney was able to keep the degree of his drug use hidden from many employees and friends. He didn't show the signs of heavy meth smoking, such as a twitchy demeanor and a lack of concentration -- and while many meth addicts drop weight, Haney kept the pounds packed on.
That October, Haney was pulled over in Lakewood while driving a stolen Dodge pickup. One of his two passengers, a female, claimed that she had borrowed the vehicle from an acquaintance. In the truck, police found small baggies of suspected meth and several credit cards belonging to other individuals. (Some of the credit-card names could be traced back to clients of Haney's escort service, Westword later discovered.) Haney was taken into custody, charged with driving under a suspended license and later released. On the custody report, Haney listed his employer as Touch Art Gallery. But the address he gave for that business, in the 2700 block of Walnut Street, was a warehouse space he was using as an office for his escort agency, and was also known to an exclusive segment of Denverites as an after-hours party club where booze flowed freely and cocaine use was rampant.
According to the Denver Police Department, nearly 70 percent of identity-theft crimes are committed by meth addicts who work in organized gangs. In contrast to crackheads, who will do impulsive muggings or burglaries for quick cash, methheads will spend days tinkering with their plans, like an army of criminals that never sleeps, finding new and creative means of check and Internet fraud to feed their habit.
One of Haney's helpers in this project was a teenager we'll call Hillary, who had recently moved out of her parents' Denver home after becoming addicted to meth. Within a month, she was part of a ring of speed addicts who'd score large amounts of cash for drugs through numerous criminal enterprises, most often identity theft. Hillary had heard about the escort business through a friend who was a former employee, and she went to talk to Haney about a job. "Basically, it was just a normal kind of interview," she remembers, "except at the end he pulled out a pipe and started smoking with me -- which is what got my attention, because at the time, I was addicted to meth, and anyone who would smoke it with me was my friend."
Most of the girls working for Haney now were speed freaks, and he was known for giving potential employees a personal "tryout." But some of his employees had no idea how far Haney's drug use had gone -- or how deep his deception.
"I think he kind of kept that low-key," says Hillary. "Some of the girls knew he was getting high, and some of them were getting high with us. But for the most part, I don't think that most of them knew what we were doing, that he was using their identities."
A computer whiz, Hillary says she and Haney would create fake checks and driver's licenses on his computer equipment and then recruit other addicts to pass the forgeries at local businesses and banks. When the supply of willing minions dried up, Haney went out himself and attempted to pass a fake check for $800 at a Bank One. When the check number came up as a duplicate, the teller called police. Haney, who was described by bank employees as agitated and impatient, told the responding police officer that he had received the check for the sale of some kind of artwork.
Haney was arrested, charged with forgery and ordered to appear in court later that month, but didn't show up. Instead, he headed back to Texas to make another attempt at leaving the life and sobering up. The attempt failed.
A few days later, Hillary was arrested at a King Soopers in another forgery incident.
One member of the DPD's narcotic task force doesn't buy the image of Haney as the big boss; he was more of an "organizer," he says. The detective believes that Haney's main suppliers were a ring of white supremacists. It was a more dangerous crowd than Haney was used to, and the criminal possibilities were endless.
"He was just a scumbag. He had no morals. He didn't give a damn about anybody," Hillary says. "He'd screw anybody over for a dope sack. And that's how the drug works: You get addicted, and then after that you don't care, as long as you're high."
In October 2005, April was looking for another job and started randomly calling escort agencies that advertised online. One in particular caught her eye: Touch Companions, whose ad read: "Do you need to make money? Think you're too old?"
April needed the money. A few years before, her husband had beaten her, and she'd suffered short-term memory loss that made it difficult to work. She'd tried to run her own cleaning service, but that hadn't panned out.
So now she dialed Touch Companions. Gary Haney answered.
The two hadn't spoken since April had quit Colorado Companions, more than four years earlier. Haney had sold that company to a former client for a fraction of its true worth -- just another sign of his desperate state.
April went to see Haney, and they smoked meth together, she says.
She started working again, but this operation was very different from Haney's previous business. Only one other girl was working for Haney: Her name was Angel, and she was the girlfriend of Haney's roommate and business partner, Steve Papson. The house at 31st and York was dark and worn down, an embarrassment compared to Haney's former kingdom, but he didn't have much choice. By now, he had screwed over so many people that he was the black sheep of the industry.
"He was getting death threats," says a former friend. "Someone came into his house and knocked him around one night, and he had no idea who was responsible. I know between three people, he owed over $50,000."
"Gary is the worst-case scenario," another industry insider says. "He is the stereotype. He's below a pimp."
April didn't yet know how low Haney had gone, although she'd immediately noticed that his habit seemed like a 24-hour obsession. Instead of taking care of business, he slept all day, often letting calls from clients go unanswered. Unlike Colorado Companions, this service had no set hours, no women to answer the phone. Haney and Papson were getting upwards of fifty hang-ups a day; men don't want to call an escort service and hear another dude on the line. Haney was still thinking big, though. He told April he wanted to start another large service called Bad Girl Society.
But while Haney was always a guy who had lots of ideas, now it seemed that he couldn't concentrate long enough to get anything done.
"He was always working on something on the computer," April remembers. "Constantly. At one point, our site went down for like three days and he wouldn't fix it."
Haney did manage to hire a few more girls, mostly meth users. On The Other Board, one user posted this review of his date from Touch Companions last fall: "Ariel was fun to spend time with. I think she got into the session as much as I did, which made me get into it even more. She's got a devilish smile that lets you know good things await. She says that she's Œkind of an addict' and that seems to mean she's gonna make sure she has a good time, which is more than alright by me."
On November 7, Haney was picked up by police on a warrant for his year-old forgery case. After a week, April and other employees managed to scrape up enough money for bail. On the way home from jail, April says, Haney smoked meth in the car.
Haney was getting increasingly strung out and paranoid. "Just about every penny that any girl made as far as a drop went right back out the door to the dealer," April says. "Every single penny."
In the early-morning hours of December 7, April went to Haney's house to make a drop from the money she'd earned that evening. Haney and Papson told her that they wanted to talk to her. As April sat down, Haney went into his room and then emerged with a baseball bat. He began hitting April on the head, she says, accusing her of "stealing" more than eleven calls a day. They kept April there for hours, taking all the money she had in her purse and car.
At five the next morning, they finally let her call for a ride. Her boyfriend and fifteen-year-old daughter picked her up and wanted to take her to the hospital. "I just want to go home," April yelled. After sleeping for twelve hours straight, she went to Swedish Medical Center. By then, however, it was too late for stitches, since many of the gashes on her head had already clotted with blood.
It was not too late to file a police report detailing the beating.
"The verdict is still out on who did it the right way," ends Gary Haney's About Me profile. "But for now I'm gonna have to say I wouldn't change any of it."
The verdict on Gary Haney's criminal case is still in the works. Last Friday, a fourth-floor courtroom in the Denver City and County Building was crowded with spectators and defendants waiting for hearings on their felony cases when Haney was brought in, shackled to another inmate. His beard had grown out, and he was wearing eyeglasses that looked too small for his head. In fact, everything looked too small for Haney -- from the stretched waist of the prison jumpsuit to the too-tight chain that wrapped around his back and connected to his handcuffs.
After the guard instructed the defendants to take a seat in the jury box, Haney leaned back awkwardly in his chair and was barely able to clutch his hands around the circumference of his belly. He surveyed the courtroom and spotted Steve Papson seated in the crowd. Papson, tall and fit with wavy reddish hair, is out on bail and also had a hearing on February 17. (Papson's attorney declined Westword's request to speak with his client.)
Haney's case was up first. As he approached the podium, his public defender told the judge that her client had waived his right to a preliminary hearing and proposed that the assault and robbery charges be combined with his pending forgery case at a hearing on March 3. With all three charges, Haney faces a maximum of 21 years in jail.
The judge granted the petition to conjoin the two cases. The lawyer then asked that Haney's bond be reduced to $15,000. His bond is currently set at $50,000, an amount he has not been about to make -- which is why he's been sitting in Denver County Jail since he was taken into custody on January 8. It took almost a month after the warrant was first issued for police to arrest Haney at Papson's home, where he had continued to run Touch Companions.
For the first two weeks after the beating, April stayed in hiding. But soon she was working for another escort agency. In late December, she ran into a friend who said that she was still working for Touch Companions. "And I'm sitting there thinking, 'What's wrong with you people? How can you sit there and work for him and help him earn money to keep him out of jail for something that he did to me? If he can do it to me, he can do it to you.' And he's going to do it again," she says. "And you know what? That person's not going to walk out of that house. They will be dead."
On Friday, April got her chance to tell that to the judge. Wearing a fleece jacket and camouflage cargo pants, she emerged from a side room and approached the microphone. "I would ask you please to not reduce the bail," she said. "I have been in fear for my life." April started to cry. "I'm afraid he'll do something when he gets out."
After April stepped down, Haney's lawyer presented her argument: that Haney has no prior felony conviction and that "he has substantial ties to the community with family, friends and his business." And that there are problems with April's version of the incident. "All the photos [taken at the hospital] show cuts, but no injuries that would go along with a brutal attack," she argued. Plus, there's the fact that Haney made no effort to flee during the weeks before he was finally arrested.
The judge, looking at the file, noted that the "injuries are not as serious as complained about by the accuser," but decided to err on the side of caution and denied Haney's request to reduce bail.
Haney's face sagged with disappointment for a moment, and then he walked back to his chair. Before sitting, he looked down at the black plastic arms, the narrow seat. Looks like everything is going to be much smaller from here on out.
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