Aug. 4—A former counselor with Boulder’s Mental Health Partners accused of sexually abusing a patient was sentenced to probation with no jail time and sex offense specific treatment Friday.
Jose Alejandro Yepes, 49, pleaded guilty in February to a felony count of stalking and a misdemeanor count of harassment with a stipulated sexual factual basis..
The plea agreement included a stipulation to probation on the felony count and a deferred sentence on the misdemeanor. A deferred judgement means that if Yepes completes the terms of his probation and does not pick up any new criminal cases during the two-year term, he will be allowed to withdraw the guilty plea and the misdemeanor will be dropped.
Boulder District Judge Nancy Salomone sentenced Yepes to two years of probation to be served concurrent with a two-year deferred sentence.
But attorneys did disagree over some of the conditions of the probation and deferred judgement. Defense attorney David R. Jones asked Salomone to only order boundaries treatment and classes, but Boulder County Deputy District Attorney M. Breck Roesch objected to Jones’ request, arguing that the parties had already agreed Yepes would do sex offender specific treatment.
Salomone imposed the agreed upon sentence, with the exception of the conditions concerning contact with minors or the use of a computer, which Salomone declined to impose.
Salomone said her determination was based on the allegations, admission as part of the plea, concern with a failed polygraph, and Yepes’ not being forthcoming about past employment as a mental health professional in which he was reminded that he wasn’t supposed to touch the clients.
“I am troubled by the relationship that as a long term therapist and therapeutic treatment provider, you would have, and I believe you did, know really well the vulnerability of folks who come to you for treatment,” Salomone said. “It is clear to me that you used that vulnerability that this patient and victim had to make sexual advances towards her.”
The prosecution argued that an offense specific treatment provider must have all of the conditions in place in order to provide treatment. While sometimes exceptions can be made, the prosecution said given the fact that the case involved a sexual factional basis, that exceptions weren’t likely to be granted and the prosecution would have to file a motion if all conditions were not imposed.
“I’m going to impose what I’m going to impose and if someone kicks something back to me I guess I’ll deal with it again,” Salomone said. “I can’t in good faith be told by both parties that it’s a giant package and you either take it all or you leave it all.”
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty stated that Salomone imposed the sentence and conditions that the victim wanted and his office believed were appropriate.
“It was our position that the defendant should go through sex offender specific treatment, so we insisted on that as part of this sentence,” Dougherty stated. “We want to acknowledge the victim’s courage and cooperation with the prosecution of the case. Because of her, we were able to secure the felony conviction and the right outcome.”
Salomone did give Yepes a chance to back out of the plea deal given the disagreement between the attorneys, but he elected to move forward with the sentencing hearing.
“Mr. Yepes has always fully admitted to crossing ethical boundaries with his patient by developing feelings for her and then confessing those feelings,” Jones said in a statement. “However, the evidence in this case strongly supports the fact Mr. Yepes never engaged in any of the sexual contact or exposure behaviors that were alleged. Mr. Yepes pled guilty to offenses that did not admit those more aggravated allegations. Two psychosexual experts, one hired by the defense and one enlisted by the prosecution, were both in agreement that Mr. Yepes should be required to engage in general mental health treatment and ethical boundaries classes, but specifically disagreed that he should do a more specific treatment designed to treat defendants who have engaged in nonconsensual sexual contact.
“The court ordered the more specific treatment over our objection (Friday). Mr. Yepes will do the best he can moving forward with the court’s sentence and understands that the conditions of his probation are within the sound discretion of the court to determine.”
Yepes was hired on Oct. 19, 2020 by Mental Health Partners as a “milieu counselor” at the Warner House facility, 2833 Broadway, and worked with people suffering from substance abuse issues, according to police records.
A woman reported to police that Yepes had repeatedly contacted her and “initiated contacts that were sexual in nature” over a one-month period starting in November.
Yepes was fired on Dec. 1, 2020 then arrested in January 2021.