CHEYENNE – The trial of a man accused of sexually abusing his stepdaughter in the same bed as her mother began Tuesday in Laramie County District Court.
Joel Cirbo, 44, is charged with sexual abuse of a minor and incest: stepparent and stepchild. The case is being heard in front of District Judge Thomas Campbell.
The defense and prosecuting attorneys made their opening statements Tuesday afternoon, and the state called its first witness. This morning, the victim is scheduled to testify, and the state is expected to call the rest of its witnesses.
“Actions speak louder than words,” said prosecuting attorney Angela Dougherty from the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office. “This entire case is about his actions, the defendant’s actions.”
The victim was the stepdaughter of Joel Cirbo at the time of the alleged abuse. The victim and her family came to Cheyenne for Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the alleged incident occurred July 30, 2017.
“She came up and got a lot more than she bargained for,” Dougherty said.
After a concert one night, the victim, who was 14 at the time, got back to the hotel around 5 a.m. with her extremely intoxicated parents, Dougherty said.
Cirbo and his wife, the victim’s mother, got into an argument, and the mother asked the victim for the hotel room keys, she said.
Her mother passed out on the hotel bed, and after swimming in the hotel pool, the victim returned to the room to take a shower and go to sleep, Dougherty said. After she got out of the shower, she saw Cirbo in bed with her mother.
She was going to sleep on the pullout couch, but Cirbo told her to sleep in bed with them, she said. The victim went to sleep in between her mother and stepfather.
The victim was then awoken the next morning to her stepfather sexually assaulting her, while Dougherty said her mother was “three sheets to the wind” lying next to her.
Cirbo told the victim to go take another shower or go downstairs. The victim went downstairs, and as soon as she left the room, Cirbo had sex with his wife, Dougherty said.
This is important because Dougherty said it shows he had an urge to be satisfied.
As soon as the victim left the room, she was immediately confiding in her friend about what happened to her, Dougherty said. She then went back up to the hotel room and told her mother, who was sitting on the bed while Cirbo was in the shower.
The mother confronted Cirbo and asked, “What did you do to my daughter?” Cirbo went out into the hotel room in a shower towel and told the victim he was sorry and not to tell anyone, Dougherty said.
When the family got home, the victim spent the night with her biological father, she said. With her friend’s encouragement, she disclosed the event to her stepmother.
But there’s another side to this story. Defense attorney Dion Custis said during his opening statement that this case is actually about family issues.
The victim has known Cirbo since she was about 6 or 7 years old. In all of those years, not once has the victim accused Cirbo of sex abuse.
The story gets even more unbelievable because this allegedly occurred while the victim was in the same bed as her mother, Custis said.
The victim’s father and mother were having custody disagreements. The victim’s biological father had primary custody over the victim, and at this time, Custis said, the victim was also having issues with her mother.
As soon as this alleged abuse was reported, her father filed an emergency petition for custody.
Then, when the victim told her mother about the alleged abuse, she said her stepfather “tried” to sexually abuse her, not that he did, Custis said. He also said the victim is a very outspoken young girl, and asked the jury if she seemed like the type of person to fall back asleep after waking up to the alleged abuse.