A 44-year-old Cortez resident was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison under a plea agreement for sexually abusing three children over a span of several years.
Melvin Darrell Fisher was originally charged with multiple counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and pattern of abuse.
District Court Judge Douglas Walker sentenced Fisher to 12 years in prison for sexual exploitation of children and a total of eight years on three charges of attempting to commit sexual acts against a child. All four charges are to run consecutively, or one after another.
Walker dismissed, as part of the plea agreement, more than 20 charges Fisher originally faced.
Several family members of the victims addressed the court, and the Cortez Journal has chosen not to identify them to protect the identities of the children.
One parent told the court that Fisher had turned her family upside down, and said her family treated him like a brother, introduced him to their church, and he then did horrific things to her baby.
Another relative said she has forgiven Fisher for what hes done, but he will eventually have to answer for those acts in the afterlife.
She also said she made peace with all the hurt he has caused to the families and is going to let it go, but added she is happy Fisher will never have another chance to harm another child.
Another relative told Walker that her family has gone through hell from what he did. She said she hopes he rots in that jail cell.
A father of one of the victims was very emotional, saying he still has not come to terms with what Fisher did.
I treated him like a brother. I trusted him, he said.
He said he failed his children as a father for failing to look after them and protect them.
He destroyed our lives. I think he should spend the rest of his life in jail, so he cannot do this to another family.
Following the family statements, Fisher addressed the court.
I want to say I am sorry for what I did, and I know saying sorry will not fix it, he said.
He said he hopes the counseling he receives will make sure this does not happen again.
Walker told Fisher that his actions had devastated families, and said he was especially struck by the eloquence of a child victim who had previously addressed the court. He also cited the impact of the other family member statements.
Walker said a pre-sentencing evaluation showed that the defendant was a sexually violent person and that he would have to register as a sex offender for life if ever released from prison.
I do not know if there is anything else to say in this case. Good luck folks, Walker said to the families of the victims.
As Walker exited the courtroom family members of the victims hugged each other.
Fisher was already a registered sex offender after a 2005 conviction for sexual assault on a child, for which he was sentenced to 18 months of prison, according to a Colorado Department of Public Safety report.