Child molester gets 21 years in prison

Steamboat Springs deputy district attorney pushes for jail time in assault case

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS A 55-year-old Hayden man was sentenced Monday to 21 years in prison for sexually assaulting his step-granddaughter.

"The court believes this is an appropriate sentence," Doucette said to Drennan, whose step-granddaughter was 13 when he assaulted her. "This court cannot think of a more heinous crime."

Drennan showed little emotion when the sentence was handed down.

The girl's parents attended Monday's hearing. Her mother begged Doucette to give Drennan the maximum sentence, 32 years in prison, for his conviction of sexual assault of a child by one in a position of trust. The man the girl knew as a grandfather touched her inappropriately and had her touch him.

The girl's mother read a written statement to the court during Monday's hearing.

"He ripped the heart out of our family," she said. "He stole the innocence and trust of my 13-year-old daughter."

Drennan assaulted the girl at the family's home in a Denver suburb and at his Hayden home a total of five times between October 1998 and January 1999.

Charges were filed against Drennan in Jefferson County and in November 1999, he was convicted of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but the time behind bars was suspended on the condition that he successfully complete 16 years of intensive supervised probation.

When Deputy District Attorney Charles Feldmann of Steamboat Springs found out about the sentence Drennan received in Jefferson County, he filed a charge for the assaults that occurred in Hayden.

His effort to send Drennan to prison was supported by the girl's family.

"Even though he was a sex offender, he was able to walk the streets in Routt and Moffat counties where we have friends," the girl's mother said Monday. "We had to tell the community of these facts.

"She owed it to the other kids in the community to come forward with the information," she said.

The woman described her daughter as the "bravest girl she knows."

"Our daughter was forced to tell the truth in a courtroom full of strangers," she said. "She will have a lifetime of painful memories. These assaults were thought-out and planned attacks."

Drennan was convicted by a Routt County jury in December.

Like the girl's mother, Feldmann pushed for the maximum sentence.

"This was just a horrible, horrible case," the prosecutor said. "I'm glad justice was served, and he is off to prison where he will likely spend the majority of the rest of his life."

Feldmann believed a long prison sentence was needed because Drennan still has not taken full responsibility for assaulting the girl.

Drennan's probation officer, Annette Norton, and his therapist, Roger Reynolds, both testified Monday that Drennan's admission of guilt to the assaults has "fluctuated."

"Denial is not clearly black and white in this case," Reynolds said. "I have told Mr. Drennan during our sessions that he is the sickest person I have ever worked with. One of the best liars, or he is truly confused."

Drennan spoke briefly Monday before Doucette sentenced him.

"I wish I could go back," Drennan said to the girl's father and mother, who wept. "All I can say is I'm sorry."

Drennan's attorney, Ralph Cantafio, argued that his client should get 10 years in prison.

Pointing to the testimony of Norton and Reynolds, Cantafio said his client was not a high risk to re-offend, was following through with his probation obligations and was progressing with therapy.

"He has been a law-abiding citizen," he said. "It has to count for something. He raised two kids, paid his taxes and served in the military.

"Certainly a very bad thing has happened, but we would hope there would be some humanity in the system, and he can move forward with the rest of his life."

Feldmann gave the victim's mother a hug at the end of the court proceeding. The couple then quietly left the courtroom.

Cantafio can request for Doucette to rethink the sentence in 120 days, but the judge made it clear he does not intend to grant the request.

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