Aspen yoga instructor arrested on suspicion of sex assault
January 9, 2009
ASPEN ” An Aspen yoga instructor was arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault that happened while he was giving a lesson at a local studio, according to a court filing released Friday.
Steven Jon Roger, 47, faces one felony count of sexual assault and a misdemeanor count of unlawful sexual contact in alleged incidents last year. If convicted, he faces more than 10 years in prison, sentencing guidelines showed.
He also faces three misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact in alleged incidents that occurred in 2007, June 2006 and July 2005. Aspen police arrested him at about 6:45 p.m. Thursday. He was released that same evening on $7,500 bond.
Each incident involved different women with all of the alleged offenses taking place at O2 Aspen, according to documents filed with the court.
Roger is scheduled to be advised at a 10:30 a.m. hearing Monday in Pitkin County District Court.
The incident that led to the felony offense happened in May, according to an affidavit from Aspen police officer Christina Schairer.
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The affidavit states that on “or about May 12, 2008” a woman took a yoga class from Roger.
During that lesson, Roger was standing behind the woman and allegedly “placed his hand on her lower back” to adjust her position, while she was in “child’s pose.”
The position was described in the affidavit as “the student looking down at the floor on your hands and knees with your buttocks in the air.”
Roger then allegedly slipped his “hand down the back of the woman’s pants without her consent” and touched two parts of her body.
The affidavit also states the same woman took a private lesson in April 2008, during which “Roger touched her breasts over her clothes without consent.” That incident led to one of the misdemeanor counts against him.
The 2007 incident allegedly happened at a yoga class taught by the suspect, according to the affidavit, in which he stands accused of touching a woman’s breasts and inner thighs “with his hands several times” without consent.
The June 2006 incident also apparently occurred at a yoga class in the studio. Roger was also accused of touching a woman’s “breasts and buttocks several times over her clothes without her consent,” the affidavit stated.
He was also accused of pressing his genitals against the woman’s body “in a manner that was inconsistent with yoga instruction.”
And, in July 2005, the affidavit alleges Roger touched a woman’s thighs and buttocks three times with his hands and without her consent during a class. The victim also told Roger to stop “touching her during the class.”
Roger, who was interviewed by authorities in late November, said that in his 15 years of teaching “he has never had a complaint,” the affidavit stated. He also reportedly said that in his years of teaching yoga he could not think of anyone who had a problem with him.
Deputy District Attorney Arnold P. Mordkin, who heads the Aspen office, said that if “these allegations are true, these are very serious charges.”
He added, “Our office would encourage anyone who may have had a similar experience to contact the Aspen Police Department or our office.”