Predator looking for prey? Arrest affidavit details Justin Folley’s alleged pattern of exploitation
- An anonymous letter sent to Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume started the investigation. The letter said Folley was having inappropriate sexual relationships with students for years. Both his wife and assistant coaches knew about the relationships and didn’t come forward. The letter writer said it was a serious problem that needed to be investigated. (Editor's note: This letter was anonymous, and the claims in it haven't been verified.)
- Folley had a sexual affair with an adult woman in Craig. His wife, Shana Folley, later found out about this.
- Shana found text messages between other women and Justin where he would tell them they were beautiful.
- Shana Folley told Investigator Travis Young that community members approached her and told her Folley was having inappropriate relationships with students.
- In 2011, Folley was allegedly texting a female student, which Shana Folley verified through phone records. She remembers Folley wrote that girl down as a baby sitter, but that they never used her for that purpose.
- Shana Folley said Justin told her in April that after the Moffat County School District told him it had an anonymous letter stating he was having sex with students, that the family needed to move “right now” because someone was trying to get him fired.
- Shana Folley told Young she saw sexually explicit text messages in 2011 or 2012 between Justin Folley and a female student. She messaged the female student asking her why she was talking to her husband about sex. The student never answered back. When confronted, Folley told her he was talking to the student about her sex life with another student. Shana Folley remembers the student being a trainer or assistant on Folley’s baseball team. Shana Folley said there was another student around the same time that people used to joke that Folley was doing stuff with, but she chalked that up to hearsay.
- In 2013, Folley had a sexual relationship with a former student during the summer after she graduated. The female student was 18 at the time. The former student had sex with Folley one time at his house when his wife and family were out of time. It was consensual. The former student said Folley initiated the relationship, which was kind of normal at first before turning sexual in nature. After Shana Folley confronted her via text, she felt wrong because Folley was married and she terminated the relationship. She told investigators she remember hearing she wasn’t the only one.
- Investigators talked to another former student who said after she turned 18, Folley started texting her right away. Her mom thought it was rude and inappropriate and said Folley shouldn’t have been talking to her like that. The messages lasted for the summer. Folley would make her uncomfortable at co-ed softball games where Folley would give her long hugs. She knew Folley was married and thought it was weird. The majority of messages Folley sent her were text messages. She couldn’t recall all of the details but remembers some of them were sexual. Folley told her he was happy she was now 18. She told investigators she never had sexual relations with Folley.
- This same former student told investigator Young she heard others were having sex with Folley. She said Folley was really flirtatious, and he would wait for girls to walk from the high school to the baseball field, put his arms around them, telling them how pretty they looked that day. She said this was an everyday-type thing with Folley. She said Folley made her uncomfortable, and added that he was really flirtatious on out-of-town trips when his wife wasn’t around.
- Investigator Young asked this same former student if assistant coaches knew of Folley’s behavior. She said they wouldn’t say anything because they were just as bad. And she said that if she would have allowed it, she and Folley would have gone much further.
- Another student told investigator Young about how the victim told her about her relationship with Folley. He would walk behind her and send messages telling her she looked good. The victim told her she thought Folley was good looking. Folley and the victim had been talking via messaging type apps all four years the victim was in high school, that Folley would stare at her in class, and that one time on Folley’s birthday, she asked if he wanted to come over to her house because her parents were out, but he said he couldn’t because his family was home. The student said she didn’t know if anything sexually happened between the victim and Folley, but she wasn’t sure whether the victim would tell her if something had happened. The student said she mostly knew about the messages between Folley and the victim. The student said she feels Folley took advantage of the victim and the victim told her Folley wanted to take it farther than sending text messages.
- Prior to Fall 2008: he was a substitute paraprofessional.
- Fall 2008: He was hired as a teacher at Craig Middle School.
- Fall 2008: He was hired as CMS assistant boys basketball coach.
- Jan 2009: He was hired as Moffat County High School assistant baseball coach.
- Fall 2011: He was moved to CMS head boys basketball coach.
- 2010: He was promoted to head baseball coach at the high school.
- Fall 2012: He was hired as assistant golf coach and CMS assistant girls basketball coach.
- Fall 2013: He was moved to HS teacher.
- Spring 2017: He was replaced as the high school baseball coach and placed on paid administrative leave
- Aug. 17, 2017: He turned himself in, and faces 10 counts of exploitation of a minor; he remains on paid administrative leave.
Details from his arrest affidavit paint a dark picture of how Moffat County High School coach and teacher Justin Folley groomed his victim in a child sexual exploitation case, which is detailed after a months-long investigation.
Folley has been initially charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He faces a Tuesday court hearing, where he will be formally advised of the charges against him.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Folley, 35, was granted a $5,000 cash surety bond after a hearing at the Moffat County Courthouse.
Folley remains on paid administrative leave at the high school.
“These charges are very serious, and if proven would certainly be grounds for dismissal from employment,” said Moffat County School District Superintendent Dave Ulrich.
The arrest affidavit outlines how Folley started grooming his victim when she was a freshman at Moffat County High School. When she was 15, their messaging turned sexually explicit.
Over the course of several days in early May, Craig Police Investigator Travis Young interviewed the victim four times, piecing together details of the relationship between Young and his victim.
In a first meeting with Young on May 2, the victim denied having any inappropriate conversations with Folley, with their messages just about school-related things, she said, according to the affidavit. At one point, she was frustrated with the situation. She talked to the principal and one school resource officer, told them nothing was happening and threw her phone on the table and told them to go through it because nothing was happening, she said.
She said “she is tired of going into school and having students accuse her of (having sex with Folley) because it’s not true.”
According to the affidavit, the victim’s mom was concerned because the girl spent a lot of time alone with Folley in his classroom. The victim said that was true and that she didn’t have many friends, and Justin was there for her. She said people thought that was weird and said she and Justin had a “unique” relationship. She had played baseball for Folley and played with him on a co-ed softball team, and that Folley was always there for her.
After that first interview, Young thought to himself that some of her statements were concerning, especially because she considered her relationship with Folley “unique,” according to the affidavit.
On May 2, Young received a call from the victim, who wanted to meet with him again but didn’t want her mom to know. So Young met with the victim on May 3 at the high school, and more damning details emerged.
Young started that conversation by telling the victim he had a feeling “that she hadn’t told me everything about her relationship with” Folley, according to the affidavit.
The relationship began when she was a freshman, the victim told Young. Folley asked to her to download the Hangouts app on her phone, and told her to turn off the history feature part of the app so the messages they sent each other would not be saved on the phone.
The victim initially didn’t turn that feature off, but eventually did. She said their initial messages were normal, but eventually Folley’s messages turned sexual. She found Folley attractive and lots of students find one of their teachers attractive, she said.
They both sent and received sexual messages to each other during her freshman year. The sexual messages stopped after the summer of her freshman year, and their conversations were normal, she said, according to the affidavit.
The victim described the sexual messages about what Folley wanted to do to her and the dreams he had of her. Some of the messages were more explicit than what the Craig Press can describe here.
She told Young she was sorry she didn’t tell him this in their first talk. She also said that she never had any physical contact with Folley, and he never tried to have physical contact with her.
The victim told Young that the relationship turned when Folley said he had a dream about her. At first it freaked her out. But she was insecure and she thought Folley knew that, and that’s why it was easy for Folley to talk to her.
She and Folley sent messages using Snapchat, with Folley mostly sending her videos because she wouldn’t be able to screenshot those, she said.
She sent pictures to Folley of her nude body parts. Folley sent her videos of himself masturbating, she said, according to the affidavit.
She said Justin would message her, saying something like “That’s hot.”
The affidavit outlines a few more key points from this second interview.
- She sent three nude photos to Folley. He sent her two or three videos of himself masturbating.
- Folley told her to never tell anyone about their messages.
- Folley was worried about being found out, so he would ask her to provide details that it was really her when they messaged. The victim mentioned one time she described to him a Boston Red Sox key chain she had bought for him.
- She told a friend about the messages. She told Young he should talk to her. She shared with the friend screen shots of their messages, and at one point was worried all of this was going to come out so she asked the friend to delete her as a Facebook friend so the messages would disappear. She wasn’t sure whether the friend still had the messages.
- She told Young about two more sexually explicit conversations they had.
Investigator Young had a third conversation with the victim on May 4, where the investigator pried more information from the victim.
Ongoing messaging did contain some sexual references, but not as much as when she was a freshman, the victim said. There was a time in her junior year when she was walking down the hall, and Folley sent her a message, saying her “butt looked nice.” And after she turned 18 earlier in the year, she sent Folley a message, saying she guessed “It wasn’t going to happen.” She later broke down and told Young that she was embarrassed about sending Folley the message that was about initiating a sexual relationship.
After the second interview with the victim, Young interviewed the friend and asked if she had saved any of the explicit messages between the victim and Folley.
She did, and turned them over. Most of these messages were sent in 2015, the summer after the victim’s freshman year when she was on a family vacation.
The messages were sexually suggestive, with Folley telling her what he’d like to do to her.
The victim was 15 at the time of these messages, and there were more than 30 screen shots of messages between them, according to the affidavit.
The friend told Young that the relationship between Folley and the victim was not good for the victim and it took a toll on her. She said she never saw anything inappropriate between Folly and the victim.
During a fourth and final interview with the victim, Young confirmed details about how old she was, when the messages were sent and that Folley asked her to send nude pictures of herself to him.
The victim expressed her frustration with the whole situation and the disappointment she perceived her parents would feel about her. The victim told Young she felt like “s—” every day, had been crying herself to sleep every day and wasn’t even sure she would attend her own graduation.
Concerned, Young called a victim’s advocate to the high school to talk with the victim.
Details about the bond hearing
On Friday during his bond hearing, Folley was not in the courtroom, instead appearing by live video feed from the Public Safety Center. The judge, Nicholas Cantanzarite, also appeared by live feed.
Deputy District Attorney James Hesson requested a bond of $20,000. Folley’s defense attorney, Rico Tagliaferri, requested a personal recognizance bond.
Folley, according to discussions in the courtroom, is unlikely to post bond before his next hearing, which is at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
Attached to the bond is one condition: Folley cannot initiate contact with any person under the age of 18.
The judge also issued a protective order, naming the only victim to the allegations, who is a minor, and any witnesses to the alleged acts.
The protection orders names the victim. However, it’s the Craig Press policy not to name minor victims in cases like this.
Through the courts, Folley tested for flight risk and propensity to re-offend. He scored a 5 percent or less likelihood of fleeing, and a 9-10 percent chance of re-offending.
Folley has no prior criminal history. He has continued to live in the Craig community since the investigation was initiated in April.
Folley, 35, was formally charged on 10 counts of alleged sexual exploitation of a child, according to a press release Friday morning from the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Folley turned himself in and was booked into the Moffat County Jail shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. His bond will be set in a court hearing Friday morning.
The charges allege misconduct with a former student between late 2013 and early 2015. Seven of the counts are class 3 felonies and three counts are class 5 felonies, according to the release.
The news comes nearly four months after Folley was removed from his post at the high school and placed on paid administrative leave in late April, which is also when Craig Police Department began its investigation. He will remain on leave pending the school district’s review of the case, the release said.
The school district relied on the police investigation, Ulrich said.
“Given the nature of the investigation, the Craig Police Department has worked their process, and the name or names of any students, or former students, that may have been involved, have not been shared with us,” Ulrich said.
In terms of support to other students, staff and parents, Ulrich shared this:
“Nothing specifically was done other than to follow our protocol and that was to share that the teacher was placed on administrative leave.”
Folley has been a teacher and coach with Moffat County School District since 2008, starting at Craig Middle School before moving to the high school. He was the boys baseball coach at the high school until he was placed on leave.
Folley’s booking sheet:
May 3, 2017: Moffat County High School coach, teacher under investigation
Aug. 18, 2017: Arrest affidavit details Justin Folley’s pattern of exploitation
Aug. 23, 207: Justin Folley is allowed to leave the state after bonding out
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.