Longtime local Peter Nardi insists he is innocent of the felony charges he faces.
In an interview Wednesday, he said he’s willing to bet his life on it. Nardi, 50, is charged with sexual assault, a crime of violence that brings upon conviction a minimum term of eight years in prison and as long as life because of mandatory sentences for sex crimes.
Nardi, however, said he will not accept a plea agreement, maintaining that he’s innocent.
“I can’t plead this down,” he said.
Nardi’s former girlfriend told police that he brutally assaulted her during a nightlong ordeal at the Aspen apartment she was renting in April. Nardi is accused of dragging her down a hallway by her hair; wrapping a pillow around her head and punching and smothering her; sexually assaulting her; refusing to let her leave the apartment; forcing water into her mouth and nose; shoving his underwear down her throat; and threatening to kill her if she went to the police.
Nardi, who lives on Highway 82 near Snowmass Village, said all of those accusations are false and are ruining his life.
“I don’t know where she came up with this crazy stuff,” he said.
Bond for Nardi after his arrest was set at $400,000, an unprecedented amount for the upper valley. But Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan requested the amount be reduced to $2,500 the day after Nardi was advised on the potential charges.
Nardi is free on that amount, which didn’t change when Bryan filed charges Monday. He also is charged with felony attempted assault and two misdemeanors: false imprisonment and third-degree assault. A felony kidnapping count that Bryan initially said would be filed was not pursued, nor was a felony trespassing charge he was facing after the arrest.
Asked about the massive bond reduction, Bryan said Monday that with “a case like this we can only react to information as it’s presented to us at the time.
“To say we had incomplete information is an understatement,” she said.
Nardi on Wednesday said it was the woman who allegedly attacked him three times.
Nardi accused her of allegedly punching him on the night of the incident because he told some of her family members that she had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Pitkin County. Court records show her license was revoked because she refused a breath test after an August 2012 traffic stop. She pleaded guilty April 23 to careless driving in a plea agreement in which the DUI charge was dropped.
Aspen police officer Terry Leitch wrote in the arrest affidavit that when he responded to the woman’s apartment on April 6, he noticed bruises on the woman’s arms and jaw.
Nardi said those came from him allegedly defending himself when the woman became irate when they met up at her apartment in the early morning hours of April 6. He accused her of punching him in the mouth at that time.
“Of course I restrained her, held her arms and was like, ‘Baby, baby, stop it,’” he said, adding that police saw the bruises on his body from her allegedly punching him.
The bruise to her jaw happened when he pushed her away after she allegedly clawed his neck at a bar earlier that week, he said.
After quarreling early on April 6, they reconciled, he said — “We calmed down” — and went to bed together, with him waking up twice to her head on his chest, Nardi said.
According to his account, they awoke around 11 a.m., and he said he was leaving her until they went into relationship counseling. She folded a couple of his shirts and carried his ski boots to the door for him, Nardi claims.
“Everything was fine, I said, ‘I’ll call you later,’” he said.
If true, that means the alleged victim called police about 90 minutes after they woke up.
Nardi showed a reporter text messages, purportedly from her in the week before the incident, that have her saying she loved and missed him. However, one text, which he said was from her that week, says, “You mess with my life, I mess with yours. Thanks for the life lesson.” Nardi said that particular message was in relation to her DUI case.
He said he voluntarily gave his underwear to police and told them they wouldn’t find saliva on it from him allegedly forcing it down her throat.
“No, God, no,” Nardi said when asked if he wrapped a pillow around her head.
The arrest affidavit says that a nurse trained in sexual assault examinations told Leitch that the woman had injuries consistent with her story. Nardi, however, said he and the woman had consensual sex in the days before she went to the police.
He said he believes the alleged victim is fabricating “all of it. And I don’t know why the DA’s going after this. ... I haven’t raised my hand, ever, to a woman.”
District Attorney Sherry Caloia said that her office continues to pursue the case and that the statements by the alleged victim and Leitch in the affidavit still stand.
Nardi doesn’t have an attorney and is pursuing representation through the public defender’s office.
“I’m scared, very scared,” he said. “I feel like I’m the victim here.”