A 45-year-old old Colorado man who used to be a private art instructor in Gering has been sentenced on charges related to the sexual assaults of a young teenage girl.
On Thursday in Scotts Bluff County District Court, District Judge Leo Dobrovolny sentenced Steven Barraza to 10 to 20 years in prison on charges of: Attempted 1st Degree Sexual Assault and Child Abuse (Knowingly and Intentional).
Barraza was arrested in January after the girl reported the 2014 assaults to authorities. Court documents say that when the girl was 13, she took private art lessons at Barraza’s house. During that tenure, he began giving her gifts, and as the months went on he reportedly made the relationship sexual in nature.
Barazza confirmed to Scottsbluff Police that the girl was his student, and a warrant for his arrest was issued on January 23rd. In July, Barraza pleaded no contest to amended charges.
During today’s sentencing, Judge Dobrovolny noted that Barraza’s actions caused significant harm to the victim, who has been in counseling for the assaults since they occurred. Dobrovolny noted that the pre-sentence report indicated that Barraza showed a predatorial pattern, and abused the trust he was instilled in the teacher/ student relationship.
Barraza declined to comment before sentencing.
In addition to the prison term, Barraza will have to register as a lifetime sex offender and be subject to lifetime post release supervision.
He was given credit for 226 days already served, and will be eligible for parole in five years if he doesn’t lose any good time.