Jailed Lawyer Seeks Reprieve 

Former GOP activist pleads guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child, but wants charges dropped

Randy Ankeney, jailed since July 11 after pleading guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child, is currently listed as a practicing attorney in Colorado.

And the case against Ankeney -- a onetime rising Republican star who once worked for Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and was co-chair of the governor's 2002 reelection campaign in El Paso County -- has lately taken strange twists.

Exactly a year ago, Ankeney was arrested and charged with picking up a 13-year-old girl off the Intenet, getting her drunk and stoned, taking pictures of her topless, and attempting to have sex with her. When she said no, according to the police report, Ankeney, then 30, warned the girl he'd ruin her life if she told anyone. Then, he reportedly dropped her off in the middle of the night at the nearest Wendy's.

He was subsequently charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors. Additional felony charges were later added after a 17-year-old girl came forward, claiming Ankeney had sexually assaulted her while the two were working on a political campaign.

His arrest sent shock waves through the highest echelon of Republican circles. In addition to serving as the governor's reelection co-chair, Ankeney, an attorney, was appointed by Owens as the state's $63,000-per-year economic development representative in El Paso County. The former El Pomar Foundation fellow was also a GOP bonus member from El Paso County and worked on numerous political campaigns.

A dating relationship

Initially, District Attorney Jeanne Smith's office was scheduled to prosecute the case, over the objections of Ankeney's attorney, Kevin Donovan. In addition to Ankeney's Republican high profile, he had also once worked as an intern in Smith's office.

Smith, a Republican, said she believed her office would have been able to fairly prosecute Randy. However, the case took a turn when Ankeney's defense announced plans to call one of Smith's deputy district attorneys as a character witness. The deputy DA had previously dated Ankeney.

"At that point we decided to get off the case," Smith said. "The deputy was very uneasy about having that relationship come out in public and she did not need to be questioned about this by her co-workers."

Ultimately, Jim Bentley, a special prosecutor from the Pueblo DA's office, was appointed to the case. On July 11, four days before the case was scheduled to go to a jury trial, Ankeney entered a plea of guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child, a felony.

Under the plea deal, Ankeney could spend up to three years in jail and must register as a sex offender. He was taken to jail in handcuffs, pending a Sept. 9 sentencing date.

A new twist

Within an hour after his client entered his guilty plea, Donovan said he received a telephone call from a Connecticut man named Michael Ferrucci, who claimed to have some interesting information about the second girl listed in the lawsuit.

According to a court document filed in the case, the young woman -- now 19 -- had gone to work for Ferrucci and his wife as a nanny and, Ferrucci claimed, attempted to seduce him, had gone out drinking every night and was, in his opinion, untruthful.

Donovan was dumbfounded when Ferrucci indicated that he had relayed this information to special prosecutor Bentley more than a month earlier. Bentley, Donovan said, had an obligation to inform the defense that he had information that was potentially exculpatory to Ankeney, but never did.

On July 23 -- with his client in jail after he had already pleaded guilty -- Donovan filed a motion to dismiss all the charges against Ankeney, and asked that sanctions be brought against Bentley for withholding information.

"After talking with Ferrucci, I called Bentley and asked him, 'Is this true?' and his response was, 'So what?' " Donovan said. "Say what you want about Randy and the situation he found himself in, you should still play by the rules."

This week Bentley said he questions whether he was actually required to disclose the information he had based on the phone call from Ferrucci to Ankeney's lawyer. A hearing on Donovan's latest filing has not yet been scheduled, but Bentley said he plans to argue that Ankeney's original guilty plea of attempted sexual assault on a child should stand.

An active lawyer

Meanwhile, Ankeney's status as a practicing lawyer in Colorado is currently listed as active. Colorado's rules require that attorneys notify the state when they have been arrested or otherwise become personally entangled in the law. However nothing in his file indicates he ever did so, according to an agency spokeswoman.

As of press time, no disciplinary measures have been taken against Ankeney by the state's attorney regulatory council, which oversees such actions against lawyers, including disbarment.

John Gleason, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court as the agency's director, said lawyers have "an affirmative obligation to report virtually any conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony."

Last week, Gleason said he was unaware of the case involving Ankeney, but noted that disciplinary measures are not taken against lawyers until they are convicted. The range of actions, Gleason said, can range from censure to disbarment, depending on the nature of the crime. Gleason said, to his knowledge, no sex offender has ever gotten off with censure.

"Now that I'm aware he's entered a plea agreement, I will be watching for his report," Gleason said. "Anytime we have an attorney convicted of a crime, we move very quickly."


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