Aspen man restrained for second AA encounter |

Aspen man restrained for second AA encounter

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Charles Abbott

Charles Abbott didn’t show up for court Wednesday, and neither did his wise owl of an attorney.

Abbott’s no-show compelled Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely to finalize a protection order that prohibits him from having contact with a member of Aspen’s 12-step recovery community.

Abbott, reached by phone after the hearing, said he thought it was set for today.

“I’m terribly sorry for missing the hearing,” he said.

It was the second protection order filed against Abbott regarding his behavior at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Aspen. On May 9, Aspen police arrested Abbott, 67, for allegedly assaulting Michael Stranahan, who is not a member of AA, but was attending a meeting. Stranahan, 75, who once housed Abbott at his North 40 home, accused Abbott of pushing him into a wall at St. Mary Catholic Church. That incident led to a permanent protection order against Abbott, which Fernandez-Ely approved May 19. At that same hearing, Abbott brought a stuffed toy owl, which he called “Solomon,” as his counsel.

The May 9 incident was related to an altercation with the woman at a May 7 meeting. At the May 9 meeting, the woman had asked Stranahan for Abbott’s contact info so she could serve him with court papers over the May 7 incident. Abbott said Stranahan had no business arming her with Abbott’s personal details.

The AA member, whose name is not being published to protect her anonymity, wrote in a court filing that Abbott assaulted her after the May 7 meeting at Aspen Community Church. The woman wrote she had finished chairing the gathering, during which time Abbott expressed his frustration about the featured speaker.

The woman also wrote that Abbott jerked her and spit in her face, yelling obscenities.

Abbott, however, said the woman kicked him and berated him.

He called her account a “piece of fiction.”

The woman wrote that she felt scared for her life, but she twisted out of Abbott’s grasp, “able to leverage myself free. I ran to the door and out.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, the woman said she and Abbott have attended some of the same meetings since the alleged altercation. “We haven’t spoken at all,” she said. “He hasn’t attempted to apologize to me at all.”

Abbott, for his part, said he apologized to the woman and her husband. He said he is trying to move on from the past incidents, which have created negative energy in the community.

The protection order means Abbott cannot have contact with the woman. They can, however, be present in the same room at AA meetings. If he communicates with her or has contact with her in a meeting, that would be a violation of the order.

“The way it’s enforced is by calling the police,” Fernandez-Ely told the woman.


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