WESTCLIFFE, Colo. -- The man convicted of a sex crime that happened 20 years ago that was the focus of a Problem Solvers investigation still maintains he is innocent.
"What I'm saying is, I didn't do it. Somebody did it, but it wasn't me," Joel Market said.
He spoke during a jailhouse interview in Westcliffe, where he was being held by the Custer County Sheriff's Office. The interview came one day before Market was transferred to a Colorado State Prison to begin serving a 24-year sentence.
A fingerprint helped convict Market, 49, in October of sex assault on a child. The 1996 sex crime in Colorado Springs led to the termination of Brad Pitman's parental rights in 1997 after social workers concluded Pitman sexually assaulted his 4-year-old daughter.
"(The suspect) was just like my daddy but it wasn't my daddy," the girl told detectives in a videotaped police interview.
Investigators said the girl was comparing the suspect's size and age to her father because at age 4, that was the most logical thing for her to do.
But social workers for El Paso County became convinced Pitman was the perpetrator.
Pitman was never arrested for the crime, but El Paso County's Department of Human Services had his parental rights terminated because its therapists concluded he broke into his ex-wife's apartment in the middle of the night and molested the couple's 4-year-old daughter two weeks after they separated.
"I've missed 20 years with my kids. I don't know if they'll ever contact me cause they've been told for 20 years that I was this horrible monster and I'm not," Pitman said.
"I feel his pain, but the right person needs to be brought to justice, not me," Market said.
When asked how his fingerprint ended up on a kitchen window at the crime scene, Market replied, "When I check for an apartment for my family, I check everything. I go through windows, I go through doors, I go through this, I go through that."
Market said the apartment where the crime happened must have been a place he previously checked out to rent. In 1996, Market was stationed at Fort Carson Army Base, a short walk from the apartment where the 4-year-old girl was assaulted.
That same year in the same neighborhood, El Paso County sheriff's deputies released a composite sketch of a black male wanted for five similar break-ins, some of which included sex assaults.
The statute of limitations ran out on the other cases because none of the victims involved was a minor, but investigators said suspect Market committed those crimes too, a charge he denies.
In 1998, Market moved to Texas where that same year he was convicted of burglary in Garland, Texas. The fingerprint from the 1998 burglary is what cold case detectives discovered 20 years later to link him to the 1996 fingerprint in Colorado Springs.
Despite the fingerprint evidence and the fact Texas investigators said Market made incriminating statements to them when they questioned him about the 1996 case, Market insists he is not the person who sexually assaulted Pitman's daughter.
"I hate it when people make me be a monster or something. I'm a caring person who pretty much cares for everybody," Market said.
The lack of a confession from Market frustrates Pitman.
"You've stuck kids without their father for 20 years and I don't know if they will ever contact me. I don't know," he said.
Besides his 4-year-old daughter, Pitman has a son that was 6 months old at the time of the crime. Both changed their last name after the divorce became final and haven't spoken to their dad in 20-plus years even though they're aware Pitman was recently exonerated.AlertMe