James Zink, one of three men accused of sexually assaulting a woman at gunpoint Oct. 14, 2017, was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison for second-degree assault.
He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation for two counts of attempted sex assault that will be served after his prison term is completed. Zink, 19, will also have to register for life as a sex offender.
The counts of sexual assault include causing submission of the victim against her will, assaulting the woman while she was incapable of appraising the nature of her conduct and assaulting her while she was physically helpless.
According to arrest affidavits, Zink and two other men offered a woman a ride home from a party in northeast Durango. The woman was expecting to be taken to Fort Lewis College. Instead, she was driven around town. Once parked, Zink threatened the woman with a shotgun and forced her to perform sexual acts on the men.
Police, who had received a call from a man who had also been in the car earlier and was reporting he had money stolen from him, encountered the car with the men and woman at the Durango Skate Park in the 1300 block of Roosa Avenue and interrupted the suspected sexual assault.
The two other men – Devin “Ducky” Bond, 22, and Anthony “Izzy” Fitts, 19 – are also accused of sexually assaulting the woman.
Bond pleaded not guilty to six charges, including felony sexual assault. He is scheduled for a jury trial beginning Feb. 11, 2019.
Fitts has pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree and two counts of attempted sexual assault. He will be sentenced Sept. 28.
In court Friday, Kimberly Zink, Zink’s mother, recounted her son’s difficult upbringing in which he was beaten and sexually assaulted from ages 4 to 6 by his biological father and how he suffered with an uncertain life as a juvenile as she battled a brain tumor.
“James was sexually abused. It was ugly. It was dark. It was sad,” his mother told 6th Judicial District Court Judge William Herringer.
Zink lowered his head and cried as his mother spoke.
Zink apologized to his victim in court.
He said while he can’t change what happened that night, he hoped his victim knew how apologetic he was.
“I’m appalled at what happened and that I was involved,” he said.
Prosecutor Sean Murray said if Zink does not want his life defined by his behavior that led to his guilty plea, he will meaningfully commit to treatment for the issues he struggles with.
Zink’s defense attorneys had asked for a sentence of 10 years in prison, and the prosecution had sought 16 years behind bars.
Kimberly Zink told the court she was not the best mother.
“He didn’t have a male figure in his life,” she said. “As much as I tried, I couldn’t be it.”
Instead, she said her son’s male figure was his older brother “who was going through his own version of hell.”
“No matter what you heard, my son is not a monster. He’s an 18-year-old, now 19-year-old, who didn’t know how to grow up,” she said.