Ex-cop testifies at trial on charges of rape

Steve Garrison
Richard Emmert

AZTEC – Former Farmington police officer Richard Emmert Jr. took the stand today at his bench trial on charges of child rape and molestation.

Emmert, 26, denied allegations he raped two female relatives at his family's residence in San Juan County before he joined the police force.

"Not then, not now, not ever," he said, adding later. "There is a reason why I became a police officer, and it was to protect people."

A 20-year-old female relative testified Wednesday that Emmert raped her when she was 14 years old. She claimed Emmert threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about it.

Emmert is also accused of twice raping another female relative when she was between the ages of 8 and 11. That relative, now age 13, refused to testify Wednesday.

Emmert said in testimony he did not know why the alleged victims accused him of the crimes, but he said he was the family's "fall guy" growing up and was constantly blamed for everything that went wrong.

Emmert said he grew up in a "chaotic" home environment, which he blamed on his mother, Kathleen Emmert.

One of 10 children, Emmert said he left his home at age 15 1/2 and lived at times with older siblings and friends.

He said he worked full time at Target during that period and returned to school in the fall of 2006 to complete his senior year of high school.

He said he moved back into the family's residence in April 2007 because school officials said he would otherwise not be able to graduate.

Kathleen Emmert said in testimony Wednesday her son "did everything to scare people" when he was a teenager.

"There were times at the house where he would get right in his dad's face and he would want to hurt him," she said. "There were times I did call the police because he would get violent with his sisters, his brothers, his dad." 

Emmert admitted he had a temper when he was a child, but said he learned through the Marine Corps and the Farmington Police Department how to control that anger.

"I know I was rough and created some fear when I was a child, but in no way does that make me a rapist," Emmert said during cross-examination.

Emmert said he was hired by the Farmington Police Department in August 2014. His employment ended Sept. 11, according to Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen, the same day he was charged with seven felonies in connection to the sexual abuse allegations.

Emmert's attorney, Mitch Burns, presented as evidence Emmert's military records and bank statements in an attempt to account for his client's whereabouts at the times of the alleged rapes.

Emmert testified he was with his then-girlfriend almost every day during the period he allegedly raped the 20-year-old female relative.

Prosecutor Marcus Blais said he doubted such records could adequately account for Emmert's whereabouts.

"These are crimes of opportunity," Blais said. "You don’t spend hours and hours with these victims. You take them aside and do it to them."

Blais admitted in his closing statement that both alleged victims had credibility issues; each of them had previously claimed Emmert's younger brother, 21-year-old Timothy Emmert, had committed the alleged acts.

Timothy Emmert was charged in July with two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child, but those charges were dismissed in September after the alleged victims changed their statements and accused Richard Emmert.

In brief remarks, Judge John Dean appeared to agree the fundamental issue in the case was credibility. He said it was a "Herculean feat" for the state to establish the alleged victims' credibility after they already had recanted statements accusing another brother.

"If they came in tomorrow and said it was Ryan, where would the state find itself?" Dean said, referring to another Emmert brother.

Dean said he would begin to deliberate Friday morning, and he hoped to reach a verdict that day.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.