I-Team: Sex offender gets probation in sexual assault case

LAS VEGAS -- James Colman Booker, also goes by James Scott, Sonny James and even Robert Green. No matter the name, they all share the label of sex offender, tier 2, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous.

Metro Police reports show Booker worked at Gold's Gym on Lake Mead Boulevard in 2012 as a personal trainer. A 17-year-old girl, who will not be identified due to her age, says Booker made sexual advances to her during and after training sessions. She admits she went to lunch with Booker, but says he later drove her to a nearby Lee's Liquor store where he pinned her down and raped her in the backseat of his car.

Police arrested Booker days later, after detectives say Booker lied about knowing the girl despite video evidence proving otherwise. District Attorney Steve Wolfson explains why they did not take Booker to trial.

"In this case, although Mr. Booker had a terrible history, it was one of those cases, where it was the victim's word against the defendant's word and there were significant credibility issues. That's why this case was settled in a plea bargain, rather than a jury trial," Wolfson said.

That history Wolfson mentions includes rape third degree in Oregon which is illegal sex with a teenager. It also includes kidnapping, witness tampering, assault and attempted prison escape. Those were just some of the 16 convictions Las Vegas Justice Court found. So, why is he out of prison?

The I-Team found a videotape from his court hearing in Jan. 2014 which shows Booker's public defender pointing out a mistake in Booker's psychological examination. 

"Mr. Pacault scored Mr. Booker on the Bassiter exam a 38 and stated that is a high risk to re-offend. Actually on the scaling, a 38 is low. It says 0 - 40 is in the the low range. It's not until you hit a 61 that it's actually high," Booker's public defender told the court.

The I-Team went to Booker's apartment on Vegas Drive near Buffalo Road. The car allegedly used in the rape was parked outside. A man opened the apartment door behind a heavy screen and initially answered to the name James, but then changed his mind.

"I'm not talking to anybody," he said."No, no, no, no, no. He's not even here. Can you leave off my property?"

The district attorney's office stands by its decision not to take Booker to trial or press to have him deemed a "high risk to re-offend." Prosecutors tell the I-Team they risked losing a jury trial and there was nothing they could do about the psychological evaluation. Booker got five years probation for pleading to the lesser crime of attempted sexual assault. Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Fleck added Booker was also an informant in multiple "high-profile" murder cases.

The I-Team hasn't obtained any documents proving whether or not Booker's tips to police were part of his plea deal. Fleck says Booker began tipping police after he signed the plea deal, but before his sentencing, adding Booker fought to stay out of prison for fear of retaliation. Another law enforcement source confirms that information.

The I-Team went back to the Gold's Gym where Booker worked to ask why they hired a known sex offender with 16 felony convictions as a personal trainer. An on-camera interview was declined, but the corporate office explains that Booker lied on his job application and the company doesn't run a background check on employees unless they deal with child care. Helena Lor, director of human resources with Fitness Alliance, said that policy is likely to change soon.

Wolfson said nearly all completed sexual assault cases ended up in a plea deal in 2013. There were 347 cases, less than five percent went to trial while 95 percent of guilty sex offenders were offered a deal.

"The nature of our criminal justice system is we must settle the vast majority of cases. We don't have enough judges. We don't have enough courtrooms. We don't have enough public defenders and prosecutors and jails to give everyone a jury trial," Wolfson said.

He also points out that many cases are settled because it is difficult to get victims to testify.

Booker, or whichever alias he goes by, is now on probation. If he messes up again, prosecutors say he'll be thrown in prison for several years.


More Stories

Don't Miss

  • Community Calendar
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Connect with 8 News NOW
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Deadly Dust: Asbestos
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Community Pride
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Politics Now
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

Video Center