A former Aspen teen on Monday was sentenced to two years of probation after he was charged in two separate courts for groping a female member of his ski team and later putting a white-board cleaning product in her water bottle.
Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County juvenile court sentenced the teen, 17, to one year of probation after he pleaded guilty in December to felony attempted assault. The probation term will run concurrent to the two years of probation he received earlier this month in Summit County, where he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor unlawful sexual conduct.
The teen’s actions also have sparked a civil lawsuit from the victim and her father against him, his family and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC).
The lawsuit includes claims of parental liability, negligent supervision and violation of Colorado’s child-care licensing act. It seeks more than $100,000 in damages.
He was charged in Summit County after AVSC traveled there for a ski competition in 2011, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in August in Pitkin County District Court. The suit alleges that the boy made unwanted sexual advances toward her and touched her inappropriately in a hotel room. The Aspen Daily News is not naming the teen, who now lives in Custer County in southern Colorado, because he is a juvenile.
In court Monday, the boy’s attorney, David Kaplan, said it was his client’s frustration with the Summit case that led to his actions at Aspen High School on May 18, 2012, the day authorities said he laced the water bottle with the cleaning product.
The victim “drank a certain amount of it” and suffered stomach discomfort and burning in her throat, Kaplan said at an earlier hearing.
The teen was suspended from school and eventually charged here.
“This case came out of frustration as a result of the other case, which doesn’t condone” the criminal act, Kaplan said.
The teen is in therapy to try to understand his motivations, which have resulted in “serious repercussions,” the attorney said.
Aspen High officials implemented a safety plan and worked to support the boy when he returned from suspension, but his interactions with peers led to him withdrawing. He told Nichols that he is close to obtaining his diploma through online courses.
Because of a “rough patch of decision-making,” ski racing, which was an important part of his life, has disappeared, Kaplan said.
The teen told Nichols that the water-bottle incident happened during a “very, very stressful period of time in my life.
“I didn’t know what [the victim] was going through,” he said. “I regret every second of the past year. If I could go back, I would, but time machines haven’t been invented yet.”
Nichols said therapy and the support of his family were important factors behind why she agreed to probation, which she said is clearly appropriate.
“You’ll know yourself better at the end of it,” Nichols said of therapy.
Along with probation, she ordered the teen to complete 24 hours of community service and write a letter of apology. Two other felony counts, retaliation against a witness and assault, were dropped as part of a plea agreement.