WALSENBURG — “They did not offer up their innocence to him – he stole it,” said the mother of the two young sexual assault victims of 60-year old Marlen Sherar, as she read a statement to District Judge Leslie Gerbacht Monday morning during Sherar’s sentencing hearing. The court accepted the plea agreement and sentenced the defendant to 15 years of intensive sex offender probation and 90 days in jail. The jail sentence was suspended, but at the discretion of the probation department, which could use any or all of it for a minor violation of Sherar’s probation conditions. The state was represented by Andrew Hall of the district attorney’s office who said while he stood behind the recommendations of the plea agreement, he had concerns about Sherar’s ability to comply with some of the probation conditions, including alcohol use. Hall said he also had concerns regarding where the defendant actually lives, saying Sherar may had already violated conditions of his bond by relocating from Walsenburg to Trinidad and living in a motor home while he attended heavy equipment operator’s classes at the junior college. Sherar was represented by Joseph A. Koncilja of the Koncilja & Koncilja law firm of Pueblo. The two victims’ mother read a statement to the court (the Huerfano World Journal, by policy, does not publish the name of adult family members in a case where the victim is a juvenile to protect the child’s identity) saying, “We ask that as you hand down his sentence remember we put our trust in him and betrayed that trust. They (the two victims) have a long road ahead of them. Please your honor, give them the justice they deserve.” The victims’ mother’s statement included allegations this was not the first time Sherar had engaged in this type of behavior. “It’s not a question of if he will offend again, but when,” she said. “He wants to get this behind him,” Koncilja said, “alcohol played a part in this matter and probation is appropriate.” Koncilja said Sherar’s two suicide attempts showed how desperate his client is. Sherar allegedly attempted suicide by taking sleeping pills with alcohol during both the Easter and Labor Day weekends earlier this year. Speaking in a barely audible voice, Sherar told the court, “I’m truly sorry and I pray for those girls every day.” In sentencing the defendant Judge Gerbacht said, “It’s easy to have empathy when you’re sitting in that chair, possibly facing prison for the rest of your life. This an appropriate case for sex offender probation, but you need to understand everything you need to do,” Gerbacht said to Sherar. “If you violate, it is unlikely you will get a second chance from me,” she said. Some of the defendant’s conditions of probation include registering with law enforcement as a sex offender; a prohibition from consuming alcohol and any drugs not prescribed by a physician; participation in sex offender and alcohol treatment, whether in group or individual sessions; staying away from anyone under the age of 18, (the judge gave examples; you can’t go into Walmart, if you go to a grocery store at 10 at night and there are children there, you must leave) she said. Sherar will also have to undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluations. “I do not belive you committed the offense due to alcohol influence,” Gerbacht said, “ I think alcohol gave you permission. I believe you are a sex offender, and this is your opportunity; there will not be another,” she said. Walsenburg police filed two cases against Sherar in April and May 2013, when allegations were made he had inappropriately fondled his two granddaughters, aged 12 and 9, at the time the offenses occurred.
Part 3 of Benton Canon’s harrowing tale of surviving against all odds by