GOLDEN, Colo. (Jun. 27, 2022) – Joseph Gabriel Van Eck (DOB: 8-14-1988) was sentenced on Friday by the First Judicial District Court for the sexual assaults committed between April and September 2020 on four women from a vulnerable community. The court imposed consecutive sentences amounting to a total of 162 years to life in prison.
On April 19, 2020, a young woman reported to Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies that she had been picked up in Denver and driven into the foothills where she was sexually assaulted. Three additional women were identified who reported similar experiences in August and September 2020. All four victims were unhoused females, one of the women was picked up in Denver and three were picked up along W. Colfax Avenue in Lakewood.
Three of the victims were lured into Van Eck’s truck by offering them a ride, and one victim was grabbed and pulled into the truck by her purse. Once the victims were inside the truck, Van Eck would drive to a remote area in Jefferson County where he threatened to kill, physically assaulted, and forced them to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Van Eck was armed with a knife and a gun on more than one occasion.
Through a joint investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Lakewood Police Department, Van Eck was identified and arrested on September 18, 2020.
On March 28, 2022, a Jefferson County jury found Mr. Van Eck guilty of twelve counts, including three counts of Sexual Assault, two counts of Second Degree Kidnapping, four counts of Soliciting for Prostitution, one count of Attempted Sex Assault, one count of Unlawful Sexual Contact and one count of Theft.
At sentencing, the District Attorney thanked the victims for their bravery and resilience throughout the lengthy judicial proceedings. One of the victims was present and addressed the court stating, “Because of him, I’m scared of everybody. He terrified me beyond belief.”
“These four women lived on the streets, and that’s where he hunted them,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Tyra Forbes. “Kidnapping them, threatening them, beating them, driving them to a deserted trailhead in the middle of the night, brutally raping them, and then dumping them on the side of I-70…that level of depravity deserves the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
Van Eck was also found to be a sexually violent predator and is subject to lifetime parole for his crimes.