Aspen yoga instructor pleads not guilty
October 21, 2009
ASPEN – An Aspen yoga instructor Tuesday pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor charges of unlawful sexual contact, setting the stage for a trial in March.
Steven Jon Roger, 48, appeared in Pitkin County Court before Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely, who scheduled a trial for March 1. Roger’s attorney, Tams Viski-Hanka, requested that the trial be set for two weeks.
“There are six charges, and each have their own witnesses,” he told the judge.
Viski-Hanka said he would call up to 20 witnesses, and “these are not advocate witnesses,” he told the judge. Rather, they would be people who are connected to the allegations that Roger had unlawful sexual contact in incidents that occurred between 2005 and 2008 at the O2 Aspen yoga studio.
The two-week trial request prompted the judge to remark that the longest trial she’s ever presided over was two days.
“I’m trying to be on the side of safety,” Viski-Hanka said. “My feeling is six to seven days would do it.”
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Roger would have to register as a sex offender if he is convicted of any of the misdemeanors. Each count also carries a potential jail sentence of two years.
In May, Senior District Judge James Edwin G. Rutland dismissed two felony counts of sexual assault against Roger, ruling there was insufficient evidence for him to face the charges.
Each count alleged that Roger sexually assault a woman at O2 Aspen, but the judge found that intrusion did not occur. “More than a touching is required under counts 1 and 2 to establish an intrusion” in violation of state law, he wrote.
Roger, who is free on $7,500 bond, appeared in court yesterday, but did not speak.