DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. – A paroled sex offender allowed to live in a home with children was sentenced for sexually assaulting the same children he lived with in Highlands Ranch.
John Cornell, 41, was sentenced Friday to 70 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
In 2016 and fresh out of prison, Cornell was given the OK by his parole officer to move into the Highlands Ranch home despite Cornell’s criminal history, including a prior sex assault that required him to register as a sex offender.
The mother of the victims -- Amanda Perea, 41, whom Cornell had a prior relationship with – encouraged the living arrangement and even failed to report the abuse to authorities, prosecutors say. Additionally, prosecutors allege Perea helped Cornell destroy pornographic images he had taken of the children.
Perea was convicted in June on felony evidence tampering charges and sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years probation. She no longer has custody of her children.
Douglas County District Attorney George Brauchler criticized the state’s “poorly led” Department of Corrections in a statement released Wednesday.
“Our poorly led Department of Corrections bears some responsibility for this horrible case. Parole is not a vehicle to empty our prisons of monsters like this for fiscal or political purposes. The parole system failed these children, and their mother betrayed them,” said Brauchler. “At least the perpetrator of the crimes against them will take his last breath in prison and never again cause such harm to such innocent children. Parole should never ever be an option for this profile. I hope the children get the support they deserve.”
Cornell “is a child molester who has damaged my daughter for the rest of her life,” the father of one of the victims told the judge. “The system allowed him to be free and offend again …. True and fair justice for the victims is to know their worst nightmare will remain where he belongs, in prison.”