A false sense of security | AspenTimes.com

A false sense of security

Relax, it’s Aspen.

So common is that local expression that it has become a bumper sticker.

But perhaps we’ve been relaxing a little too much or, at least, embracing this town’s leisurely and fun-natured side while dismissing its potential for a dark side, too.

A horrific incident at Centennial apartments recently exposed that truth, serving as a terrible reminder that on any given night, Aspen can feel as brutal and icy as cities 50 times its size.

Early in the morning of Jan. 17, a female Centennial resident was dragged outside by a man and allegedly raped four times. The suspect, Emanuel Gonzales-Loujun, 21, of Carbondale was arrested later that morning on multiple felony counts, including sexual assault.

What happened to this woman is horrible beyond words. The details as spelled out in court documents are truly chilling.

To say this won’t happen in Aspen again would be naive. But it also serves no purpose to be an alarmist, either.

Aspen remains one of the safest towns in the country, but we also take that relative safety for granted. We leave our bikes unlocked. We leave our car keys in the ignition. We leave our homes unlocked.

Utopian as that might feel, it’s an ideal whose time has passed. Wonderful though it may be, Aspen has changed.

Proof of that is the recent announcement of a sexual assault awareness seminar at 6 p.m. Friday in City Council Chambers. On hand will be representatives from the Aspen Police Department, Response and the Aspen Counseling Center, among others.

Among the topics will be explanations of Colorado sexual assault laws, safety tips for women, awareness information for men, resources for sexual assault victims, and more.

In closing, our hearts go out to the woman who was attacked. No one should go through the terrible ordeal she experienced. We hope she finds the help and strength she will need to get through this trying time. We also hope there’s a lesson we all can learn from this: Yes, we still can relax in Aspen. Only now, we need to keep our collective guard up as well.

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