Disbarred attorney/ex-social worker facing charges involving drugs, kids, porn and "conspiracy to commit sexual conduct in penal institutions"

Categories: Colorado Crimes

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Rite of Passage, where youth were "counseled" by Cesar Corzo.
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies looks into all sorts of bad behavior in numerous trades and professions. Not many DORA complaints can compete, though, with the staggering range of allegations found in the recent paperwork suspending the counseling and social work licenses of Cesar Corzo, 48, a former employee of a youth correctional facility who's facing criminal charges in Arapahoe County involving drugs, porn, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and "conspiracy to commit sexual conduct in penal institutions."

According to DORA, "the underlying [criminal] allegations include, but are not limited to, bringing illegal drugs into the facility and giving them to his clients; presenting slide shows involving pornographic images during group counseling sessions; bringing in a former female client and allowing his clients to have sex with her; and instituting an 'anti-snitch policy,' whereby any of his clients who divulge what occurs during counseling sessions to outside parties will be (and were) beaten."

Those sound like some intense counseling sessions. But wait. There's more.

According to the agency's investigation, Corzo was an attorney in California in the 1990s. After federal convictions over a cocaine and money-laundering case, he was disbarred for, "among other things, abetting a client's violation of her bond conditions by taking her out of state (to Las Vegas) and marrying her." Corzo didn't disclose his prior conviction when applying for a social worker's license in Colorado in 2006 because, he later explained, he was placed in a federal witness protection program after the drug bust and given a different name.

Prior to his latest troubles, Corzo was a therapist at a Littleton psychiatric hospital. He allegedly told one female patient that she "should always be ready for penetration by a man" and asked her advice on a foreclosure action. Another, being treated for an eating disorder, complained that Corzo asked her to lift her shirt and told her "you're still sexy... but I like 'em thin."

Corzo went on from there to work as clinical director and counselor at Rite of Passage, a youth correctional program that runs Ridge View Academy in Watkins. After nine months there, he was terminated and subsequently charged with bringing drugs, porn and a sex partner to his counseling sessions.

Corzo was in court this week for arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. His attorney, Terry O'Malley, asked to withdraw from the case, claiming that Corzo had disregarded his advice. Corzo objected, saying he didn't have enough money to hire another lawyer. Judge Michael Spear refused to let O'Malley off the case.

A mental health professional who evaluated Corzo at DORA's insistence found that he has "poor boundaries" and concluded that that he was not fit to practice as an addiction counselor or social worker at this time. Corzo has a right to appeal the suspension of his licenses. His criminal trial is scheduled for early next year.

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