A former Grand Junction police officer and firefighter was arrested Friday on allegations he repeatedly sexually assaulted a young girl.
Eric Janusz, 42, surrendered Friday on a warrant alleging four counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, plus one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse.
Janusz’s alleged crimes happened while he was a patrol officer between January 1996 and October 2006, Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said.
She did not disclose the dates of the alleged incidents or discuss other details in the sexual assault investigation Friday because an arrest affidavit for Janusz is under court seal.
A news release said the sex assault investigation, led by Grand Junction police, was opened after a woman filed a complaint in the fall. The female victim is now an adult.
Janusz left the Grand Junction Police Department in October 2006 and joined the Grand Junction Fire Department. He left the Fire Department in February due to a workers’ compensation separation, which was unrelated to the sex assault investigation, the news release said.
Fire Chief Ken Watkins said Janusz injured himself on the job and was let go after using all of his allotted compensation time without returning to his position as a firefighter.
City spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said federal health regulations prohibited the city from discussing other aspects of Janusz’s separation.
A man who answered Janusz’s cellphone on Friday declined to identify himself and hung up when contacted by The Daily Sentinel.
Colleen Scissors, Janusz’s attorney, said the allegations outlined Friday were a surprise. Police executed a search warrant at Janusz’s home several months ago, she said.
“He thought it had something to do with workers’ comp,” Scissors said.
Janusz earned numerous honors during his career with the police and fire departments. His name is scrawled on a placard in the lobby of the Grand Junction Police Department as a winner of the first ever “Chief’s Challenge Coin,” a recognition program for outstanding law enforcement professionals that was started in 2006 by former Police Chief Bill Gardner.
According to Rainguet, performance reviews consistently ranked Janusz’s employment at “meets or exceeds expectations,” with the exception of 2008 and 2009, when he ranked “below expectations” for customer service.
Investigated in 2010
Court records examined by The Daily Sentinel show Janusz, while employed by the Fire Department in 2010, was prosecuted on suspicion of harassing an ex-wife and her boyfriend, a fellow firefighter. The case ultimately was dropped by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.
Janusz was arrested in February 2010 after a Fruita Police Department investigation focused on allegations Janusz left a series of profane voice mails or text messages with his ex-wife, in addition to alleged threats he made against his ex-wife’s boyfriend at the time. The boyfriend was a co-worker of Janusz’s at the Fire Department.
“If you ever try to keep my kids from me again, I’ll have your ass,” Janusz allegedly told the boyfriend while on the job, according to an arrest affidavit. “Don’t ever (expletive) talk to me at work about private matters.”
The affidavit said Janusz filed a formal complaint to his supervisor about his colleague.
The District Attorney’s Office in January 2011 moved to dismiss all charges after Janusz agreed to see an anger-management therapist, according to court records.