At the conclusion of a two-day sentencing hearing, 5th District Judge Ned Williamson on Thursday sentenced a former Sun Valley Resort employee convicted of a sex crime to a retained jurisdiction treatment program, also known as a “rider.” Williamson suspended a six-year prison sentence in lieu of the therapeutic and substance-abuse treatment at an Idaho correctional facility.
The sentencing concludes a year-long criminal case involving two J-1 exchange visa visitors who were working in Sun Valley.
Klaus Nico Gomez-Alas, 23, of the Philippines, was originally charged with felony rape and felony “sexual crime against nature” for an incident that took place between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2017 at the Sun Valley employee dorms, reportedly after a night of drinking in Ketchum.
The initial charge of rape resulted from Gomez-Alas’ allegedly initiating sexual intercourse with the woman without consent and, at first, while she was intoxicated and asleep. The charge of sexual crime against nature resulted from his allegedly performing oral sex upon her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
Those charges were amended prior to a weeklong jury trial. At the conclusion of the trial in September, 12 jurors found Gomez-Alas guilty of felony sexual crime against nature, as well as a misdemeanor battery charge.
Gomez-Alas faced a potential sentence of life in prison.
During the sentencing hearing this week, Williamson heard five witnesses testify, including the victim, who gave an impact statement, and the doctor who conducted a court-mandated psycho-sexual analysis of Gomez-Alas following his conviction.
The victim testified that following the sexual assault, she was unable to sleep alone and that following her accusations, she was bullied and called a liar. The victim testified that she has been unable to speak to her family about the traumatic experience because of embarrassment and shame. Following the incident, the victim said, she could no longer find meaning in her life and now experiences fear and distrust when entering into an intimate situation with her partner.
“Today, I can say that I feel better, but it has made me a distrustful person,” the victim told the court on Wednesday through tears.
Doctor Linda C. Hatzenbuehler presented her findings of the psycho-sexual analysis done on Gomez-Alas, concluding that she did not find any sexual deviances in Gomez-Alas but did find that substance abuse is an issue for him. She found that additional treatment would be beneficial for Gomez-Alas to understand the role he played in the incident.
Gomez-Alas maintained his innocence during his opportunity to speak prior to sentencing, the first time he’s spoken in court since being charged with the crimes.
“I honestly thought she was awake and was consenting,” Gomez-Alas told the court Wednesday.
Hatzenbuehler also identified several “thinking errors,” including Gomez-Alas blaming the victim, blaming his intoxication, and failing to take responsibility for his actions that night.
Assuming Gomez-Alas successfully completes the retained jurisdiction program—which can be up to 12 months—he will be placed on probation. According to Blaine County Sheriff Steve Harkins, federal immigration services will then be called, and Gomez-Alas would most likely be immediately deported back to the Philippines.