H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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The Harsh Reality of Colorado’s Sex Offender Laws Hit Hard – A Colorado High School Wrestling Coach Receives Life In Prison

On Monday, July 25, 2011 A Broomfield County Colorado Wrestling Coach was Sentenced to life in prison after a jury trial which ended in convictions of for Sexual Assault On A Child by a Person in a Position in Trust and Sexual Assault on a child – Pattern of Abuse (more than two incidents).

The verdict related to his sexual assault of a 15-year-old high school girl who was manager of his wresting team. Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Masse had sex with the girl on several occasions and sent as many as 8,900 text messages to the girl – many of them sexually explicit – between December 2008 and February 2009.

Judge Thomas Ensor, the presiding judge over the May 2011 trial – was compelled by Colorado’s mandatory life in prison laws – to sentence Masse to 10 years to life with 20 years’ mandatory parole for the first charge, and six years with 20 years’ parole for a second offense
At the sentencing hearing Judge Ensor said ” This is like a Greek tragedy,” “You had everything going for you. But you have a fatal flaw. You found the weakest in the herd, separated her out, groomed her, made her comfortable and then … you were able to complete what you wanted to do.”

Travis Masse, the convicted coach, was a well-respected, award-winning high school wrestling coach who led his young athletes to the Class 4A state wrestling championship in 2008-09. The flaw Judge Ensor spoke of was Masse’s predilection for exploiting young women.

Travis Masse, after the verdict did THEN take a plea bargain in a second case – to unlawful sexual contact coercing a child involving Masse’s texts and request for nude photos from another female high school student. He was sentenced to two years with six years of parole for that offense, to be served concurrent with the other sentences.

H. Michael’s Take:

It is impossible to know whether a plea bargain that could have avoided the life sentences imposed on this man prior to his decision to take the case to trial. It is also impossible to know why he believed the jury would possibly believe the young victim was not telling the truth to the jury at the trial. This case may serve as a warning to all who face these charges and who throw caution to the wind and take these charges to trial.

This author will – over the next several weeks – try to learn more of the “back story” of this case as to what – if any – plea bargain may have been offered by the Broomfield County District Attorney’s office. If none was offered – it may be more clear why the case was tried to a jury.