A 17-year-old Woody Creek resident, already facing 13 felony charges related to the alleged sexual assaults of multiple people, faces a new charge for allegedly assaulting a girl at a party in September.
The defendant, who has been held on a $100,000 cash-only bond in a Grand Junction juvenile-detention facility since his arrest in early October, was ordered held on the same amount after a prosecutor filed the new charge Wednesday. He is being charged as an adult, as he is in his two previous cases, but is not being named because the cases may be remanded to juvenile court.
His attorney, M. Trent Trani of Denver, said late Wednesday that the teen deserves due process and that he will fight all of the charges, some of which, upon conviction, could possibly mean a life in prison for the teen. That is based on indeterminate sentencing guidelines in Colorado that make parole inherently difficult for people convicted of such crimes.
“By filing these cases, the district attorney is trying to put a child in prison for the rest of his life,” Trani said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has said that’s wrong, and we are going to fight [these charges]. It’s not right.”
The allegations against the defendant include sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl two years ago; and tying up, choking and raping a girl in his home in late July (an alleged accomplice, Keegan Callahan, 20, of Aspen, faces similar charges that also involve crime-of-violence counts).
Those cases are under a court-ordered seal but were mistakenly made public earlier this month.The charge against the 17-year-old filed Wednesday is not sealed.
The location of that alleged crime is redacted. It was investigated by Garfield County authorities but is being consolidated in Pitkin County with the previous cases, said prosecutor Don Nottingham.
According to an investigator’s heavily redacted statement in support of an arrest warrant, the alleged victim told authorities that she and some friends went to a party on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. During a forensic interview in October, the girl told the interviewer that she drank a little bit of wine, felt sleepy and was helped to a bedroom. She said she awoke to the 17-year-old touching her genitalia and declined his several requests to have sex.
She said in the interview that she knew it was the 17-year-old because she saw him and heard his voice, wrote Megan Alstatt, an investigator with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, citing the alleged victim’s interview.
The girl said she “crawled away,” waited a few minutes until he left and then told friends, who reacted with a mixture of disbelief and rage, according to Alstatt’s statement. The girl and her friends then left.
Trani, the 17-year-old’s attorney, emphasized the need for due process, saying that it “seems like there is a sentiment in the community [that] they want to convict him before he’s had his day in court.
“The community should look at this as if this was their son, their father, their brother,” and whether they would wish judgment be withheld until justice by a jury or judge has been rendered, he said. Trani declined comment on the most recent allegation.
Whether the 17-year-old is tried as an adult or a juvenile, in at least one of his cases, may be decided in a January hearing.