A Nederland man convicted of sexually assaulting and abusing multiple girls over the course of several years was sentenced to 66 years to life in prison.
Michael Czeponis, 42, was found guilty by a Boulder County jury in September of five counts of sexual assault on a child, third-degree assault, animal cruelty, harassment, and felony criminal mischief.
Boulder District Judge Nancy Salomone on Friday sentenced Czeponis to 24 years, 18 years, 18 years and six years on four of the sexual assault counts, with the fifth count merging with another count.
Salomone ordered the sentences all be served consecutively. All of the sexual assault counts fall under Colorado’s indeterminate sentencing law for sex offenses, which means Czeponis will have to finish sex offense treatment before he can apply for release, even after his 66-year term is up.
“The court has fear for the community if you are to be back in the community anytime in the foreseeable future, and the court has to acknowledge that,” Salomone said.
Czeponis had credit for more than 700 days already spent in jail, but Salomone issued jail sentences for the misdemeanors, meaning that the credit went to those sentences and will not go toward his prison sentence.
He will also have to register as a sex offender if he is released from prison.
While the judge who presided over Czeponis’ actual trial has since retired, Salomone said she reviewed the trial material and testimony described Czeponis’ actions as “harrowing.”
“You didn’t only abuse these children who trusted you sexually, you didn’t only abuse them physically,” Salomone said. “You abused them emotionally. You isolated them from folks who could find help for them and keep them safe.”
Investigators began looking into Czeponis in August 2019 for “allegations of sexual assault involving multiple female victims.” The Daily Camera is not specifying Czeponis’ exact relation to the victims to protect their identities, but Czeponis was an “authority figure.”
Salomone also noted that due to a variety of circumstances, each child made them especially susceptible to Czeponis’ threats and manipulation.
“All kids are vulnerable, but the court observes specifically that these kids were as vulnerable as they come,” Salomone said.
Czeponis, who appeared at the hearing in custody, elected not to speak at the hearing as he is considering an appeal of his case.
Boulder Deputy District Attorneys Michelle Sudano noted that Czeponis was deemed a high risk to reoffend by evaluators.
“He creates this situation and then he spent years and years taking advantage of it,” Sudano said. “It’s going to have a drastic impact on them going forward.”
Sudano, one of the prosecuting attorneys during the trial, said watching the young victims testify was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen.” But she said they have also been “incredibly resilient” and that she has seen them come out of their shells as they put distance between themselves and Czeponis.
Salomone also ended her statements by addressing the survivors in the case.
“It is only your own strength that brings you to the place that you are,” Salomone said. “When you have hard days, I hope you remember your strength.”
Boulder Daily Camera
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