Former Adams County Sheriff’s Sergeant Convicted of Sex Assault and Unlawful Sexual Contact
Brighton, CO —Today, District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the Sex Assault and Unlawful Sexual Contact conviction of Michael Benson, 34. An Adams County Jury returned the guilty verdicts on Monday, January 31, 2022, after six days of trial.
In 2018, the victim, working as a civilian employee at the jail, was supervised by the defendant, former Adams County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Michael Benson. The victim testified that between February and July of that year, Benson spent an unusual amount of time with her at work and that his conduct included dirty jokes, flirting, and inappropriate comments in the workplace. The victim testified that the defendant became more aggressive, leading to the conduct encompassed by the charges in this case, including touching her intimate parts, forcing her to touch his penis, and ultimately digitally penetrating her.
The victim testified that she was desperate to become an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy, and she was attempting to gain entry into the academy when these incidents occurred. The victim said she was fearful that speaking out could damage her ability to become an academy cadet.
ACSO Internal Affairs eventually became aware of the incidents involving the victim in this case, and members of the IA team contacted her in September of 2018. Benson was terminated by the Sheriff’s Office. The criminal case was investigated by the Commerce City and Brighton Sexual Assault Task Force.
“Mr. Benson used his position of power to force himself upon a subordinate and sexually assault her," said District Attorney Brian Mason. "Such a crime is outrageous on its face, but it is particularly reprehensible coming from a Sheriff’s Deputy. We will not tolerate this behavior. My office will prosecute those who commit these crimes without fear or favor, including when it occurs in a jail by a member of law enforcement. I applaud the victim for her courage in coming forward and am grateful to the jury for returning a just verdict.” On Monday, January 31, 2022, an Adams County Jury convicted Michael Benson of three counts including,
Sex Assault—Overcome Victim’s Will (F4)
Unlawful Sexual Contact—(M1) (2 counts)
Benson will be sentenced on April 7, 2022, at 9:00am. Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Fritts and Chief Deputy District Attorney Rhoda Pilmer led the prosecution of this case.
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District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.