Nikos Hecht to stand civil rape trial in Denver | AspenTimes.com

Nikos Hecht to stand civil rape trial in Denver

After more than a year of scurrilous legal back and forth, Aspen developer Nikos Hecht's trial in federal civil court for allegedly raping a Florida woman in Mexico in 2015 is scheduled to begin today in Denver.

The two sides are scheduled to start jury selection at 9 a.m. today before U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson, while the trial is expected to last all week. The selection process will include a questionnaire with 39 questions that delve into whether prospective jurors have known anyone addicted to drugs or alcohol, have been sexually assaulted or know a victim of sexual assault and whether they "feel sexual assault is always violent," according to the document.

The civil case — Hecht, 46, is facing claims of assault, battery and criminal assault but not criminal charges — was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver in March 2016 by Suzanna Dailey of Florida.

Dailey, now in her late 60s, claims she met Hecht and his family while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with her family in March 2015, according to her lawsuit. The group, which numbered about 21 people and included Hecht's then-wife, his father and his children, arranged a dinner at an organic farm March 25, 2015, the suit states.

After the party broke up, Hecht invited Dailey, then 66 years old, to go for a stroll in the gardens, according to the lawsuit.

"Hecht helped Ms. Dailey, a woman more than 20 years his senior, up the path into the gardens," the suit states. "Once they were out of the group's line of sight, he suddenly grabbed the back of Ms. Dailey's neck with one hand, pulling her forcefully to him," and then raped her, the suit says. She later found out that her nephew and friend witnessed "at least part of the horrific incident," the suit says.

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Dailey didn't report the incident to local authorities because she was in a foreign country, the suit says, noting she later underwent psychological treatment.

Dailey also claimed she told Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo about the alleged rape after discovering Hecht had been charged with domestic violence in Aspen in August 2015. DiSalvo has declined to comment about the conversation, though Hecht's criminal lawyer at the time confirmed it occurred based on her review of discovery in the case.

Federal court records indicate that testimony from DiSalvo and one of his deputies will not be allowed to be presented in the civil case. In addition, no details of Hecht's domestic violence case in Aspen, which resulted in a two-year probation sentence after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment in February 2016, or his recent divorce will be allowed to be presented to the jury. Hecht's alleged drug use cannot be introduced either unless lawyers can show it affected his ability to recall what happened that night, documents state.

The judge also has ruled that numerous details about Dailey's life cannot be introduced as evidence, including her marital history, her history with alcohol, her bankruptcy, a previous guilty plea to misdemeanor theft or anything about her nephew's suicide, according to court documents.

Hecht is a wealthy developer, hedge fund manager and member of a prominent Aspen family.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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