EAGLE—Ramon Villa, one of the four men involved in the St. Patrick’s Day sexual assault in Silverthorne in 2016, was sentenced to two years in county jail during a hearing at the Eagle County Justice Center on Monday morning. Villa, who was accused of video taping and sexually assaulting a woman too inebriated to consent in his Silverthorne apartment in March 2016, originally went to trial on the case in September last year. A mistrial was declared in the case after a juror found a page of notes in his notebook from the trial of Justin Cayce Erwin, another of the accused in the case.
In November, Villa accepted a plea agreement with the Fifth Judicial District, pleading guilty to a felony charge of attempted sexual assault and misdemeanor charges of invasion of privacy for sexual gratification and unlawful sexual contact.
On Monday, at an emotional hearing that lasted well over an hour, District Judge Russell Granger heard statements from the victim and Villa himself, along with both attorneys on the case.
The accuser gave a lengthy victim impact statement in which she detailed the lasting effects of the assault on her daily life, as well as voiced a desire to see a standard of accountability replace what she called a culture of “domination and sexual gratification.”
“There are scars left on my soul that can’t be seen by the naked eye,” she said. “Even with my determined effort to heal, there is some damage I’ll never be able to recover from.”
The victim said that over the last three years she’s suffered from severe financial setbacks stemming from the assault, saying that she has been unable to hold a steady job as a result of mental health difficulties and constant courtroom appearances. She went on to express a deep embarrassment that the incident was recorded, and noted a pattern of pervasive fear and debilitation that’s lasted from the assault.
“Your actions will forever negatively impact me, and present challenges for the rest of my life,” she continued.
Deputy district attorney Lisa Hunt painted a picture of a man without remorse for his actions, saying that Villa and other defendants in the case still viewed themselves as victims and lacked a proper understanding of consent.
In Villa’s defense, his attorney Stacey Shobe noted that Villa didn’t interact with the victim at the bar that night before she arrived at his apartment, and he didn’t have the benefit of witnessing her behavior throughout the night or her level of intoxication. Shobe said that while Villa couldn’t change his actions on the night of the incident, he is dedicated to taking responsibility and understanding how his actions affected the victim.
“Throughout this process he has been open and receptive to any treatment he’s been asked to complete,” said Shobe. “He wants to do it, he wants to learn from the situation.”
Finally, Villa spoke for himself, offering a statement on his intentions to use the assault as a learning experience.
“I do know what ‘no’ means,” said Villa. “And I was under the impression it was consensual. Now that we’re going through all this, obviously there’s more of a misunderstanding, or something I need to learn. I did question that during my incarceration; of how could this have been misconstrued as non-consensual. But I want to move forward after jail…and get the treatment that your honor would give me so that I can learn from all this and not let it happen again.”
Judge Granger sentenced Villa to two years in county jail on the invasion of privacy for sexual gratification charge. Additionally, Villa received a four-year deferred judgment and sentence on the felony count, and five years of probation for the second misdemeanor. As part of the deferred judgment, Villa was sentenced to an additional 90 days in county jail, and he was given credit for the 459 days he has already served in incarceration. Villa was immediately taken back into custody to begin his sentence.
Villa’s case is the third stemming from the assault to be completed. Paul Garvin was convicted of felony sexual assault during his trial in October 2017, and was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison in March 2018. Michael Gelber accepted a plea agreement in June 2018, and was sentenced to one year in county jail. Justin Erwin, following a partial exoneration at trial in July 2018, accepted a plea agreement in January and is scheduled to be sentenced in March.