In a case very similar to that of ex-football coach Jerry Sandusky, a Grand Junction volunteer mentor for children is behind bars accused of molesting two children.
According to an arrest report released by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, Mark Bustamante, 50, had mentored four kids through the Mesa County Partners Program from 2009 to May of this year. Two of those four children told police last month that Bustamante sexually molested them.
The report did not identify the victims other than using a birth date. We will refer to them as Victim 1 and Victim 2.
Victim 1, 10, tells police the abuse started in October of 2011. He said it only happened when he would go to Bustamante's house.
According to the arrest report, Victim 1 says he would visit once or twice a week since October and that Bustamante inappropriately touched him "on the second visit and every visit after the first."
The report details incidents in the shower when Bustamante "reached through the curtains and touched [Victim 1's] privates." Victim 1 told police Bustamante "did these things to him the entire time he showered."
Police say the abuse carried over into Bustamante's bedroom, as well. Victim 1 told police Bustamante "succeeded in putting his hand inside [Bustamante's] pants and underwear."
Victim 2, 9, came forward during a round of interviews with police. This child explains being "eight or seven years old" when Bustamante sexually abused him.
He tells police he remembers sleeping in the living room of Bustamante's house one night when "he was woken because [Bustamante] was on top of him 'humping' him," according to the report. Victim 2 said Bustamante was wearing clothes at the time while he was lying on his back.
He goes on to tell police he "rolled over away from [Bustamante]" but the suspect "re-positioned himself" and "humped once again." The whole time, he tells police, he was pretending to be asleep.
Victim 2 ended his conversation with police by describing an incident in the shower at Bustamante's house. "He started rubbing my body everywhere but he just kept on going to my privates."
Two other children mentored by Bustamante denied any sexual abuse in their relationships.
Mesa County Partners Program Director Joe Higgins says the news of these allegations is not only disturbing, but devastating. "About half of the kids we work with are already victims of child abuse, so this is disappointing for everyone here," he said.
Higgins says Bustamante first came to them in 2009 with "excellent references from his work at MDS, people, and family members."
"He was excited, full of energy, and positive," Higgins said.
But, he says the organization had suspicions about Bustamante in May of this year - over a month before this investigation was launched by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.
"We had concerns about inappropriate behavior that did not indicate any sexual touching, but there were still enough red flags," Higgins explained. "We asked to meet with him about it but he refused. So, we terminated our partnership with him."
One month later, in the end of June, the children came forward to police.
Higgins says this is the third case of sexual abuse allegations since he joined the organization 30 years ago. "The other two people were convicted and sent to prison," he said.
There was also one case of child pornography during that time, but Higgins says no local children were harmed.
"This is a sad moment, very regretful," Higgins said. "We're there to help, not hurt children."
Parents with children enrolled in the Partners program are also reacting in disbelief.
"If it was my kids, I'd be in the courthouse and over that bench," Doug Corson explained. "The bailiff couldn't stop me."
Corson has two children enrolled in Partners and says the news comes as a complete shock. "There's always these kinds of people out there," he said. "There's enough slime and they figure out a way to go down a drain."
Corson says he can't blame the organization because he knows about the extensive background checks they preform. "It's obvious to me that the man must not have had any prior convictions."