Steamboat Springs After a three-hour hearing Friday, Routt County Judge James Garrecht ruled that the case against the former teacher accused of sexually assaulting a boy should proceed to district court, where felony cases are heard.
John Holland Brothers Jr. has been in custody since he was arrested in Louisiana by the Routt County Sheriff's Office in April 2012. Brothers has been charged with 16 felonies and a sentence enhancer that would extend his sentence if he is found guilty.
Proceedings were delayed numerous times to deal with legal issues, and the preliminary hearing finally was held Friday.
After the hearing, Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann asked that the case be expedited. Brothers next will have an arraignment hearing at 1 p.m. Monday before Judge Shelley Hill.
The purpose of Friday's hearing was to determine whether there was probable cause for the case to move forward.
The only person called to testify by prosecutors was T.J. Sisto, the primary Routt County Sheriff's Office detective who worked on the case.
Sisto testified that the boy and his father came to report the incident in March 2012.
"It was obvious that it was a very difficult subject for him to discuss," Sisto said. "His demeanor was tense and uncomfortable. He seemed nervous."
Sisto said that over about a six-week period, Brothers forced himself on the boy and sexually assaulted him eight times in a bedroom, according to an interview with the boy. The boy tried to fight back, Sisto said.
While living here, Brothers was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Yampa and was a teacher at Heritage Christian School west of Steamboat Springs between 2006 and 2008. He was hired to teach junior high and high school science, high school math and Bible class.
Sisto said that when he interviewed Brothers, Brothers denied the allegations numerous times.
"At some points, he was calm," Sisto said. "At others, he was disoriented and confused. Nervous."
During the testimony, Sisto confirmed the boy had called Brothers in 2011 to tell Brothers that he forgave him. Brothers told Sisto he did not do anything wrong.
Prosecutors questioned Sisto for about 45 minutes. Public defender Kiyomi Bolick then asked Sisto questions for about an hour.
Brothers' attorneys did not call anyone else to testify. They wanted the boy and the boy's father to testify, but the judge did not allow it. Prosecutors have fought to keep them off the stand during the preliminary hearing for fear it would further victimize the boy and his family.
Brothers has been charged with eight counts of sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse and eight counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
In addition to the Routt County case, Brothers has a pending case in Kentucky, where he has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse related to allegations that he sexually assaulted two youths at a church where he worked as a youth minister after leaving Colorado.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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