Construction worker charged with two felonies after Basalt incident
The Aspen Times
A Carbondale man, who was arrested in Basalt on Nov. 6 after he allegedly groped a woman who sought his assistance with a locked door, was formally advised Monday of the two felony charges against him.
Luis Alberto Santiago-Narvaez, 34, faces one count of second-degree burglary of a dwelling and one count of unlawful sexual contact with force, according to charges the District Attorney’s Office filed in Pitkin County District Court on Friday.
During the court proceeding Monday, District Judge Gail Nichols told Santiago-Narvaez that each felony count carries a recommended prison sentence of four to 12 years and the potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. A conviction on the unlawful sexual contact could result in an indeterminate sentence, Nichols said, meaning that release from prison would not occur until completion of an intensive program aimed at rehabilitating offenders.
Santiago-Narvaez was freed from the Pitkin County Jail on Nov. 7 after posting a $6,000 bond on three separate charges. A misdemeanor count of false imprisonment, originally recommended by Basalt police, was not included in the District Attorney’s Office filing.
Santiago-Narvaez was not aided by an attorney during Monday’s hearing. With the help of a Spanish-speaking interpreter, he told Nichols that he has discussed his situation with a private attorney.
The incident allegedly occurred after a female housekeeper working in the Southside neighborhood of Basalt was asked by the homeowner to clean some outside windows. The housekeeper was alone at the house when she went onto a second-floor balcony to perform the work around midday. A door closed behind her, and she was locked outside for nearly five hours without her cellphone, according to an arrest affidavit written by Basalt police Sgt. Aaron Munch.
A vehicle pulled into the driveway of the residence, and a construction worker, later identified as Santiago-Narvaez, began to walk to a construction site next door.
The woman who was locked outside “yelled to the male and explained her story and asked that he let himself in the front door to come and let her inside,” Munch’s report said. “She said at that point she was beginning to get very cold.”
After letting the woman inside, Santiago-Narvaez made advances toward her. He attempted to hug her, but she pushed him away, the police report said. She thanked him for helping her, but asked him to leave, Munch wrote.
The victim told police that Santiago-Navarez continued to push forward and eventually did hug her. As he did, he moved his hands down and groped her over her clothing, the report said. He allegedly pushed her against the bed, but she again pushed him away and insisted that he leave.
As they reached the front door, Santiago-Narvaez again touched the woman improperly, Munch wrote. He asked her for her phone number, but she replied that she was married, the report said. Santiago-Narvaez reportedly replied, “I don’t mind,” before leaving the residence.
The woman called the homeowner, who phoned authorities. An investigation indicated that the suspect was Santiago-Narvaez, Munch said.
When questioned by police, he denied being inappropriate, saying the woman immediately hugged him when he let her into the house because she was cold.
He then said he might have accidently touched her when they hugged, according to the report. He also said that his hand may have accidentally brushed across a private area when she pushed it away after he had touched her on the shoulder, around the time he was leaving the house, the report said.
The next scheduled court appearance for Santiago-Narvaez is Jan. 5.
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The Wheeler Opera House will remain dark into 2021, with current COVID-19 public health orders in place. Meanwhile, the masonry work on the exterior of the building will continue into July.