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Foster dad, 61, found guilty of sexually assaulting 3 girls


Author: Sue Lindsay, Rocky Mountain News

A man who served as a foster parent to dozens of children was convicted Friday of sexually assaulting three young girls in his care.

Joe Lujan, 61, was convicted on nine counts of aggravated incest, sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and sexual assault on a child as a pattern of conduct.

His victims were his 15-year- old adopted daughter and two foster daughters, ages 3 and 7. Lujan served as a foster parent to more than 40 children at the southwest Denver home he shared with his wife.

"Who can you trust, if not your parent?" prosecutor Diane Balkin said during closing arguments Thursday afternoon. She said that Lujan preyed upon these girls between 2001 and 2004.

"They are hurt people because he hurt them," Balkin said. "He sexually assaulted them. He was in a position of trust, and he was engaging in a pattern of sexual abuse with all three children."

Lujan said no assaults took place.

But Balkin said that Lujan was so controlling that he sat in the 15-year-old's school classes.

"It's about control and power," Balkin said. "Her behavioral problems at school were because of what was going on behind closed doors at home. He was controlling her, pressuring her. He even followed her to the bathroom."

Balkin said that Lujan's wife of 44 years wouldn't face what was going on in the home.

"It was a patriarchal system, with the defendant at the helm," she said. "Everyone closed their eyes to bad behavior on his part."


Lujan's victims were his 3-, 7- and 15-year-old daughters

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2007 May 19