May 27, 2014

Man punished as sex offender, but was never charged with sex assault

UPDATE 1-21-15: See Comment by Mr. Gross
5-27-2014 Colorado:

Dale Gross was sent to prison twice for parole violations related to being a sex offender even though he has never been convicted of a sex offense and the woman who originally accused him of rape recanted.

Gross is one of about 800 convicts in Colorado who have been "administratively" classified as a sex offender and must abide by stringent rules when paroled as though they were convicted of rape or child molestation.

In Gross' case, an assumption was made that his accuser lied when she recanted, his attorney, Alison Ruttenberg, said.

Ruttenberg said she hopes to make what happened to Gross a test case for the hundreds of offenders classified administratively as sex offenders without an underlying Colorado conviction.

But state officials say Colorado inmates are administratively classified as "S4" sex offenders for several reasons, including:

• They were accused but never charged with a sex offense.

• They were acquitted of sex charges but convicted of other charges.

• They were previously convicted of a sex offense in another state or as a juvenile.

• They entered a plea agreement in which sex offense charges were dismissed against them.

Adrienne Jacobson, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said many offenders in the last category admit the sex offense in a findings of fact statement signed by the offender.

She said inmates are identified as S4s only after they take diagnostic tests at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center and a panel of experts determines the classification. The Colorado Parole Board ultimately decides which offenders must follow rules meant for sex offenders.

Jacobson said a panel decided to designate Gross as an S4 shortly after his conviction on burglary and assault charges.

In 1998, Denver prosecutors charged Gross with second-degree assault, kidnapping, trespassing, attempted murder and burglary in a series of domestic related incidents.

Although a jury convicted Gross of second-degree assault, he claimed he stabbed his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend in self-defense because the man was pushing him down on a stove burner.

Originally, his ex-girlfriend told police Gross kidnapped and sexually assaulted her. But Gross was never charged with a sex offense, and the woman testified at Gross' trial that she had sex willingly with him on two occasions, Ruttenberg said. She said the girlfriend told jurors she lied because she didn't want her family to know she was still having a relationship with Gross.

Gross, acquitted on the attempted murder charge, was convicted of second-degree assault, burglary, trespassing and simple assault. The second-degree assault charge was later overturned on appeal.

In September 2010, Gross filed a federal lawsuit against the parole board and the executive director of the Colorado DOC seeking to enjoin them from punishing him for allegedly violating sex offender parole rules. He dropped his suit when they agreed not to revoke his parole for violating sex offender rules, a court document shows.

But Gross' parole was revoked in January 2011 for failing to participate in sex offender treatment.

Gross filed another federal lawsuit in 2011. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch summarily dismissed the cases last week: See Case-1 and Case-2. Ruttenberg said she will file an appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ..Source.. by Kirk Mitchell

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