Crime

Hector Paez, ex-Denver cop, convicted of sex assault but granted bond while he appeals

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As we've reported, Paez is accused of having arrested a 36-year-old woman (described in a preliminary hearing as a heroin user with a lengthy rap sheet) in May of 2010, then taking her to an isolated location and forcing her to perform oral sex on him in order to avoid winding up behind bars. He was charged with second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and an attempt to influence a public servant by lying about the incident during a subsequent Internal Affairs investigation.

Throughout the process, Paez has denied the allegations against him.

Jury selection for the trial against Paez took place in September 2011. But early on in the trial, the Denver Police Department provided a piece of evidence previously unknown to Paez's defense team -- a recording of a phone call involving the victim. And that afternoon, a second phone recording of the victim surfaced.

The next morning, the Paez defense team, led by attorney Gary Lozow, questioned Sergeant Kimalee Hull, the person charged with gathering the information in question, about why the recordings hadn't been provided when defense lawyers requested evidence against Paez last year. She said they had wound up in a file she'd forgotten about, and to which other officers had no access -- and she didn't find them until the last minute. She also mentioned a third recording, made when the victim was in a police car, but she recalled it being badly garbled and guessed that she had simply deleted it.

At that point, Lozow asked that the case be dismissed and the prosecution be sanctioned. Denver District Judge Robert McGahey said "no" to these requests, but he did grant a mistrial, after which the jury was disbanded. Then, after members headed home, the prosecution revealed that it had found the third recording -- the one Hull thought she'd tossed out.

Shortly thereafter, Lozow told us, "It's very unfortunate for Officer Paez to have to go through the stress and expense of preparing for a trial that was a year in the making -- to protest and be assertive in his innocence -- only to find out after a jury is picked that police officers involved in the investigation have not disclosed relevant material evidence in a timely fashion.

"This information was sought both through discovery and through subpoenas, and we didn't get it -- and that's how you're supposed to get it. And then, what's even more disconcerting is that we moved for a mistrial on the premise that a tape has been destroyed -- and everybody knows that's the reason, it's articulated in the record -- and after the jury is let go, they somehow find the tape. That's not how the system is supposed to go forward."

A new trial was set for April 2012, but it was delayed after Lozow was badly injured after his car crashed into Cherry Creek. The trial was moved back yet again, this time to the winter of 2012. But the victim in the case didn't want to wait -- and decided to make her identity known. Her name is Valerie Arend, and in May of last year, she filed a civil suit against Paez in which she provided more details about the incident -- and she did likewise in media interviews.

What happened?

Continue for more details about the Hector Paez case, including videos and a photo.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts