It’s not every day that a police officer is the one being sentenced in a solemn courtroom. But this morning, in Room 302 of D.C. Superior Court, that’s what former D.C. cop Juan Leon was left to do. He had pled guilty to sexually assaulting a woman in his custody. As the proceedings got underway, the courtroom was fairly empty except for the victim and her family sitting in the back row. Everyone is quiet except for the whispers of the victim’s interpreter. Leon was alone except for his defense attorney and a former partner.
Leon stood before the judge, hunching his shoulders over his heavy frame, waiting to tell his story.
At 3:45 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2005, according to various testimony, stopped the woman and found that she did not have a license or registration. Leon then forced her into Rock Creek Park, where he made her perform oral sex. The day after the incident, he allegedly called her 31 times.
Before Leon could tell his side of the story, he had to listen to the victim. Standing between the prosecutor and her interpreter, she told Judge Neal Kravitz: “I never think this could ever happen to me…My life will never be the same.” Then she started to cry. “I can’t say anything more.”
Officer Eldred Boria then got up to speak on Leon’s behalf. Boria had known Leon for 12 years, working with him first in Puerto Rico. Leon had worked narcotics there. Both he and Boria would make the move to D.C. and patrol in the 4th District. Leon had been a District cop for four years. “This is news for me,” Boria explained. “It’s really news for me….I just don’t know.”
A cousin of the victim then took a turn before the judge. “You’re going to be stuck in jail, and I hope nothing good happens to you. Sorry.”
Leon’s defense attorney, Marc Resnick, first tried to salvage things. “He did stop,” Resnick told the judge. “She was crying.”
Where do you go from that?
Leon began with the time-machine defense. He wishes he could go back and not do what he did in those woods, he said. He sympathized with his victim, apologizing to her and her family and told of how the incident left his own family shattered—-that his wife is in the process of leaving him.
“I used to think I could accomplish anything,” Leon told the judge, hesitating between syllables as if in the final round of a spelling bee. “I don’t think like that anymore. Now the only dream I have is to be close to my mother in Puerto Rico in her final days.”
Leon had no explanation as to why he did what he did. The prosecutor, John Einstman, recommended the upper middle range of the sentencing guidelines for the defendant-—15 months in prison followed by 10 years supervised release during which he must register as a sex offender.
Kravitz was stuck having to describe what Leon made the victim do. He uttered the phrase “rubs his penis with the hand.”
Kravitz called the government’s plea deal and sentencing recommendations a “steep discount” and sentenced Leon to 36 months plus the 10 years supervised release.
Still standing, Leon was emotionless. He still wanted some wiggle room, asking the judge if he could turn himself in at a later date. He complained that he has to move some furniture to Orlando.
The judge refused this request. Before he was taken away, Leon twisted a ring off his finger and motioned to Boria. He wanted Boria to keep the ring.
Said Boria, who still works for the police department, “I know it didn’t happen the way they say it happened, that he kidnapped her….They set him up.”
“[Leon] told me she pulled over,” Boria explained, because she saw the flashing lights on Leon’s scout car. “She had tears on her face. He says he never stopped her.”
And what about all those calls? “He said he did call to see how she was.”