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Powell man admits to rape, sent to prison

A 51-year-old man has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half to 12 years in prison for raping a Powell woman in 2012.

A remorseful Eugene J. Gonzales pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault and accepted the prison time earlier this month. The plea was part of an agreement with the Park County Attorney’s Office that involved two other charges — which alleged Gonzales also raped a second woman — being dropped.

District Court Judge Steven Cranfill accepted the negotiated sentence on Feb. 12.

At the emotional hearing, Gonzales admitted he’d forcibly held the first woman down and sexually assaulted her in May 2012. She reported the rape to Powell police in March 2013.

“When we asked (the woman) why she had not reported the rape until now, she said that she was very scared of Eugene (Gonzales) because he had threatened her on many occasions, telling her that he would kill her if she told anyone,” Powell Police Investigator Mike Hall wrote in an affidavit supporting the charges. The woman also described having been ashamed and embarrassed, Hall wrote.

The other woman came forward to police at the same time and said Gonzales had also raped her on two occasions in 2012. She said Gonzales threatened to kill her, her husband and family if she told anyone, Hall said of her account.

Gonzales had reportedly bragged to a family member in 2013 about having raped the two women. Hall said the family member told him that “Eugene is acting like raping these women was sort of a ‘trophy’ for him.”

Two counts of first-degree sexual assault relating to the alleged rapes of the second woman were dismissed as part of an agreement that Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt said was OK’d by police and the victims.

Gonzales, a Powell native, was arrested at a family member’s home in Colorado in April 2013.

He was unable to post a $30,000 and then a reduced $10,000 bond. The roughly 300 days he served in the Park County jail prior to sentencing will count toward his prison time.

Gonzales’ court-appointed defense attorney, Brigita Krisjansons of Cody, had asked for a mental evaluation of her client in October, citing unspecified information she’d received. Gonzales was ultimately found competent.

Two of Gonzales’ family members spoke at his sentencing hearing, saying in emotional statements that they didn’t understand what had made him change from the man he used to be.

First-degree sexual assault is a felony carrying a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of 50 years.

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