GOLDEN, Colo. — A Jefferson County man was sentenced Friday to 162 years to life in prison for a series of sexual assaults, the First Judicial District Attorney's Office said.
Joseph Gabriel Van Eck, 33, was sentenced for the sexual assaults authorities said he committed between April and September of 2020.
Editor's Note: This story deals with sexual assault and may be disturbing to some readers.
The district attorney's office said in April of 2020, a young woman reported to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) that Van Eck picked her up and drove her into the foothills where she was sexually assaulted. Three additional women came forward to report similar experiences in August and September 2020.
One of the victims was picked up in Denver and the other three victims were picked up along West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood.
Van Eck would offer the victims a ride and one victim said he grabbed and pulled her into his truck by her purse, authorities said.
The victims told police that Van Ecks would drive them to a remote area in Jefferson County where he would threaten to kill, physically assault, and force them to engage in unwanted sexual activity. The DA's office said he was also armed with a knife and gun on multiple occasions.
The JCSO and Lakewood Police Department were able to identify and arrest Van Eck on September 18, 2020.
On March 28, 2022, a Jefferson County jury found Van Eck guilty of 12 counts of the following:
- 3 counts of sexual assault
- 2 counts of second-degree kidnapping
- 4 counts of soliciting for prostitution
- 1 count of attempted sex assault
- 1 count of unlawful sexual contact
- 1 count of theft
Van Eck was sentenced on Friday to a total of 162 years to life in prison by the First Judicial District Court.
"These four women lived on the streets, and that’s where he hunted them,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Tyra Forbes. “Kidnapping them, threatening them, beating them, driving them to a deserted trailhead in the middle of the night, brutally raping them, and then dumping them on the side of I-70…that level of depravity deserves the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
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