By Alex Burness
Rod Bretches, the former Loveland police officer convicted of possessing child pornography and videotaping a woman in the shower without her consent, was sentenced Monday to 16 months in jail, plus 15 years of probation and intensive therapy.
Eighth District Court Judge Stephen E. Howard said that while Bretches' status as both an ex-policeman and sexual offender will render him highly vulnerable to harassment by other inmates, it would have been inappropriate to not give a jail sentence.
"The circumstances are, in my opinion, horrendous," Howard said.
Bretches, 49, must turn himself in by Friday at 5 p.m. His sentence requires he spend the first six months of his sentence in the county jail, though he may become eligible to spend the remaining 10 months on outside work release.
He was originally arrested in May 2012 after colleagues at the Loveland Police Department began investigating Bretches following a woman's complaint that he had secretly videotaped her showering and then shared it online. Police searched his home and found videos and photos depicting child pornography, in addition to online messages between Bretches and user name "masterbill69" suggesting the shower taping was premeditated.
"You need to grow some ... and start taking pictures," masterbill69 wrote in June 2011. "I want action, wimp."
Bretches' attorney, Denver-based criminal defense lawyer Jonathan Willett, argued against a jail sentence by citing his client's "troubled" and "broken" childhood." In his youth, Bretches rarely spent more than one full year in the same place and was often subjected to abuse from his mother's numerous sexual partners.
The non-consensual videotaping of a Loveland woman, Willett argued, "is not so much indicative of Mr. Bretches' general view of sex," but rather that, "he is a product of some of the negative behaviors that he experienced as a child."
"When you're a little kid and you're subject to this kind of abuse, you don't think rationally," Willett said.
The lead prosecutor, Erin McElroy, said the pretext of Bretches' actions does not rebut his "bad character."
"It doesn't matter who the woman in that video is," McElroy said of the peeping Tom charges levied against Bretches. "It is truly about the defendant. It's a window into what's going on in his mind."
Bretches' defense was buoyed by testimony from three women, all of whom described Bretches as a caring man always willing to assist others. In her testimony, Loveland's Christine Weston said she would put Bretches "at the top of my list" for babysitting her grandchildren.
"He's not a detriment to society," she said.
The only testimony presented by the prosecution came from the victim.
Bretches took the stand near the end of the two-hour-long sentencing, and he appeared contrite and ashamed.
"I would do anything to take it back," he said, fighting tears. "I will be working diligently on all problems I had going on with me. My goal in life is to continue on with counseling to see where I got off track. I got myself into this mess, and I'm going to work to get myself out."