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How Ex-Denver Cop Got No Jail Time After Admitting to Sexual Assault

The January 2020 booking photo of Denver police officer Johnny Leon-Alvarez.
The January 2020 booking photo of Denver police officer Johnny Leon-Alvarez.
Denver Police Department
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Ex-Denver cop Johnny Leon-Alvarez just got an ironic sweetheart deal — a deferred sentence, which translates to no jail time, despite admitting to having committed sexual assault.

The plea agreement was arranged by the Denver District Attorney's Office and blessed during an April 22 hearing by Denver District Judge Morris Hoffman. Four days later, on April 26, Hoffman handed out a twelve-year sentence to anti-police advocate Eric Brandt for making verbal threats against other judges — one of his last major acts before retiring from the bench on April 30.

We first reported on the Leon-Alvarez case shortly after his arrest.

At 2:55 a.m. on January 17, 2020, according to the affidavit in the case, a member of the Denver Police Department responded to an address on North Perth Street following a report of a sexual assault.

The unnamed victim subsequently told investigators that she'd called the DPD the previous month following an argument she had with her significant other, and after taking her information, Leon-Alvarez "began texting her afterward to check on her," the document reveals. Over time, the texts became "flirty," and on January 16, the woman agreed to accompany Leon-Alvarez to Dave & Buster's. At the entertainment center, the victim remembered downing a couple of shots and drinking some beers before Leon-Alvarez took her home. She recalled trying to say goodnight at her door, but the officer made his way inside anyhow.

Portions of the next few paragraphs are blotted out in the report, but some clues as to what happened remain, including the phrases, "She was trying to push him off of her, while telling him no and to please stop" and "She said she didn't want to do certain things with him...but he did."

Sex-crime accusations against Colorado cops are not uncommon. A few other examples from past Westword coverage, including our 2019 list of 365 police officers banned by the state:

• In 2009, former Denver Police Department officer Joe Bini pleaded guilty to accusations that he paid two teenage girls to have sex while he watched.

• In 2011, Darrell Lingle, a former law enforcement officer in Lamar and Kiowa County, was charged with sexually assaulting a child.

• In 2012, ex-Arapahoe County sheriff Pat Sullivan admitted to drug possession and soliciting a prostitute.

• In 2013, onetime Denver cop Hector Paez was convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault while on duty; his victim finally won a civil judgment against him in November 2018.

• In 2014, Joseph Ellsworth, an ex-Denver cop turned sex offender, was accused of attempted sexual assault on a child.

• Also in 2014, William Robert Metzler was convicted of two counts of sexual contact—no consent, and Robert Michael French pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child—possession of sexually explicit material.

• In 2016, Timothy Joseph Kelly was bounced for sexual exploitation of a child and video with twenty-plus items.

• In 2018, former Lakewood Police Department officer Randall Butler resigned after his arrest for alleged sexual assault.

• Also in 2018, former Commerce City police officer John Reinhart was convicted of two unlawful-sexual-contact counts.

Leon-Alvarez, who was still on probationary status with the DPD at the time of his arrest, was fired on January 23, 2020, and he had another brush with the law the following July, when he was pulled over for a DUI in Grand County. But he still was able to walk out of the courtroom on April 22 a free man. The reported explanation for the deferred judgment plea agreement: DA's office rep Danielle Robinson told the court that the victim "remains fearful, and the plea agreement would spare her the burden of a trial."

When Westword asked for a comment on this outcome, DA's office spokesperson Carolyn Tyler offered this response: "Given the challenges of this case, we believe that justice was served."

Click to read the Johnny Leon-Alvarez probable-cause statement.

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