Stepdaughter says former Lake County undersheriff preyed on her

Autumn Roybal testified against Fernando Mendoza
Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 20:29:33-05

LEADVILLE, Colo. -- The former Lake County undersheriff is on trial for attempted incest and the first person to testify against him is the woman who used to call him dad.

Autumn Roybal is sharing her story for the first time since the allegations became public a year ago. 

"Who is going to believe a kid over an officer? Who is going to believe some girls over a well respected officer? And he knew that and he used that to his advantage," said Roybal.

Roybal, who took the stand on Wednesday, said she's still trying to process the day because she never thought it would happen. She explains how she lived in fear of Mendoza for years after he told her that she would be separated from her mother if she said anything about his behavior.

Court documents show Mendoza sent her sexually explicit text messages, exposed himself to her and asked her to touch him. He's also accused of using a hidden camera to watch her undress in the bedroom and bathroom.

"He was supposed to be my father figure, he was my only father figure at that time so how did it go from 'you're my daughter, I love you as my daughter' to so inappropriate? I know I’m never going to get an answer," said Roybal.

Denver7 first exposed allegations that Fernando Mendoza was sexually harassing female employees inside the Lake County Sheriff's Office. The report led to his firing and he was later indicted by a grand jury.

"But when the girls spoke up, it kind of helped me to realize this isn’t ok. I have to speak up, I have to say something. He can’t keep getting away with this," said Roybal.