2018 Election, Featured, Greeley, Original Report, Politics, Sherrie Peif, Weld County

Former Rep. Galindo’s underage accuser says she was offered alcohol more than two dozen times

GREELEY — The teenager former House District 50 Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley is accused of serving alcohol to during Galindo’s campaign in 2018 was the first witness called by prosecution on the day one of a trial in which Galindo is charged with contributing to a minor.

Galindo, the first Latina lesbian elected to the statehouse from Weld County, resigned on May 12, 2019 after two female minors who worked on her campaign accused the former Greeley City Councilwoman of serving them alcohol and sexually assaulting them in her Greeley apartment. Galindo was facing a recall attempt at the time she stepped down.

Galindo was never formally charged with the alleged assaults; however, she was charged with providing alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor. She pled not guilty to the charge on March 2, 2020.  Although a jury trial was scheduled for the summer of 2020, COVID-19 pushed back cases.

If Galindo is convicted of the single misdemeanor charge, she faces up to 18 months in jail.

Rochelle Galindo

The girl, who is now 19 and attending college out of state, will not be identified by Complete Colorado because she was a minor at the time of the offense. She will be referred to as “teenager.”

The teenager testified that Galindo was someone she had known through previous campaign work she helped on since she was 11 years old, confirming for the jury that Galindo was a family friend and aware that she was just 17 years old at the time.

“She was not only not old enough to vote, but too young to drink,” said Weld County Deputy District Attorney Michael Bailey in his opening statements. Bailey emphasized that Colorado law is explicit that not only is it illegal to give someone under 21 alcohol, but it’s just as illegal to offer whether they drink or not.

The prosecution maintains that Galindo offered the teenager alcohol on more than two dozen occasions.

The teenager said that there were generally four people — including the teenager another intern and Galindo’s campaign manager — at Galindo’s apartment when Galindo would offer them alcohol as a way to “hang out” after a day of campaign work. This occurred generally 2-3 times a week between May and September of 2018.

“It would be implied or mentioned before we even went over there, like ‘do you guys want to go have some drinks and go over there,” the teenager said. “Then when we got there, it was usually very present. Usually explicitly offered to me (the other intern) and (the campaign manager). Usually, it was Rochelle herself that offered … she would say, ‘c’mon ladies lets have some drinks.’ ”

The teenager then testified that Galindo’s campaign manager would tell them not to talk about the alcohol with anyone because if it got out it could ruin Galindo’s campaign. She said she refused on most instances but finally gave in and accepted a glass of wine because she “wanted to be cool.”

“I wanted to fit in,” the teenager said. “I was always the youngest working on the campaigns. I wanted to feel like I was hanging with the big guys. I wanted to be involved in that level of the campaign.”

She said the alcohol was offered nearly every time she went over there.

The day ended in the middle of the teenager’s testimony for the prosecution as it took most of the day just to seat the six jurors. Jury trials in Weld County just resumed a couple of weeks ago after six or seven months on hiatus. Additionally, for unknown reasons, Weld District Court Judge Charles Unfug who was initially assigned to the case, has been replaced by Weld County Judge John Briggs.

Many of the normal protocols of a trial have been modified to accommodate for COVID 19 safety precautions, including juror instructions that include picking a seat in the jury room and not changing it throughout the duration of the trial, so seats don’t have to be wiped down continually.

Attorneys will remain at their tables throughout the trial and not stand at the podium or approach the jury box. Side bars will be conducted through special headsets that allow for private conversation without leaving the seats.

Galindo appeared in court with her Denver-based attorney Kelly Page. The panel of 30 jurors was narrowed to include one alternate because of the possibility a juror gets sick from COVID 19 during the proceedings.

The trial continues at 8 a.m. April 8

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