An Aspen man pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor disorderly conduct following his run-in with a woman who is the alleged victim of a sexual assault perpetrated by the man’s friend.
As part of a plea deal, a harassment count against Dennis Yarbrough, 40, was dropped. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and must write a letter of apology to the woman, who has accused Peter Nardi of assaulting her.
Nardi, who lives outside Snowmass Village, has pleaded not guilty to multiple felonies related to the woman’s accusations and alleged bail-bond infractions.
On June 27, Yarbrough approached the woman, a Texas resident, in an Aspen restaurant, according to a police report. She told police that he yelled, “You lying bitch! You’re going down! You accused my friend of rape!”
Before Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely of Pitkin County Court on Tuesday, Yarbrough’s attorney, Richard Nedlin of Aspen, argued that what his client said is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment.
The disorderly conduct count only arose because he was asked to leave a public place and because of the volume of Yarbrough’s words, Nedlin said.
Ely read a victim-impact statement in which the woman said she is afraid of Yarbrough, now stays away from Aspen, has lost friends and fears similar outbursts from others.
But Nedlin said she was laughing moments after the encounter, and it “seemed to be not that big of a deal.”
Prosecutor Jason Slothouber, however, said two restaurant employees had to escort Yarbrough out while he continued to scream obscenities at the woman. Nedlin disputed that, saying his client left on his own accord.
Slothouber said Yarbrough threatened the woman and that she stayed in the restaurant “to try to get on with having a good day.
“She doesn’t need to leave the restaurant crying for it to have significant effect on her,” he said, telling Ely that there needed to be serious consequences for Yarbrough’s “unprovoked” actions.
Ely, citing a previous case in which she sentenced Yarbrough to probation and anger-management courses, said he has a “history of volatility.”
“You’re a big guy, and you do scare people,” Ely said. “I’ve told you this before. The effect is fear, it just is.”
Yarbrough said he knows that his conduct was wrong and apologized for infringing on the woman’s privacy.
Ely told him that the woman also has rights to free speech and reiterated that he is “very scary” when he is angry. She also signed a mandatory protection order preventing him from having contact with her.
Ely also said that what he said to the woman is not protected speech and that she will throw him in jail if he has a similar incident.
“Maybe that will make an impact,” she said.
“Well understood, ma’am,” Yarbrough said.