Details emerge in sex assault case | AspenTimes.com

Details emerge in sex assault case

Chad Abraham

The California man arrested Sunday and accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl in Aspen while vacationing here told police he was drunk and doesn’t remember anything, according to court papers released Wednesday.But the victim said Stephen Harrison, 49, covered her mouth when she yelled for her mother and told her not to tell on him or he’d go to jail, the arrest warrant says.Harrison, an architect who lives in Ross, Calif., is charged with sexual assault on a child, a felony. He was arrested in San Francisco and held on a $50,000 bond. Police say Harrison, originally from England, is considered a flight risk.The suspect’s name is the only one that appears in the warrant because of the victim’s age. But the report mentions that the girl’s family is well-known in California and that the mother was repeatedly told not to call authorities. The mother also told police her ex-husband allegedly tried to destroy evidence of the assault by washing bed linens.Harrison, his wife and their children had joined the victim’s family in Aspen for the holidays. They rented a house near Hunter Creek, where the alleged assault happened Dec. 22.The families had gone to the Caribou Club that night, but Harrison left early, the warrant says. When the rest of the friends and family returned, the girl’s mother said she went up to her daughter’s room.The woman said she saw Harrison “lying next to her daughter with his shirt unbuttoned and his pants pulled down to his mid-thigh exposing himself,” the warrant says.She told police “she grabbed Harrison by the shirt and said, ‘What the f— are you doing?'” The suspect asked her where he was and acted confused before looking at the girl for a few minutes. The woman then “leaned into Harrison’s ear and said, ‘What the f— are you looking at? You better get out of here now because I’m going to kill you.'”The suspect reportedly apologized profusely and then left the room.The mother later told investigators her daughter indicated Harrison had fondled her and ejaculated on her clothes. An emergency room doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital examined the girl, who told the doctor that the suspect was doing “weird things” and “rubbing against her.”The doctor also said a man from the residence had called the hospital before the girl arrived. The doctor “remembered him saying he heard someone else mention that Harrison had [fondled the victim’s] vagina, but could not be more specific.”The girl also told the doctor that the suspect had had his clothes on but his shirt was open. “[The victim] never saw his penis and did not put anything in her mouth or vagina,” the warrant says.When contacted by police, Harrison said he could only remember what others had told him: that he had gone in the wrong bedroom and was found in bed with the girl.”The next thing he remembers is being woken again out of his bed in the early morning … and being asked to leave the house, which he did,” the warrant says.When Detective Eric Ross of the Aspen Police Department interviewed the victim, she said that Harrison touched her face, hands and chest. When she cried out, “Mommy!” he allegedly covered her mouth with his hand and told her not to tell anyone.Harrison then stared at her until he went to sleep, the warrant says.The mother was told several times not to call police, according to the warrant. Harrison is part of a prominent family in Marin County, Calif., and the mother’s ex-husband in the police report said he was “concerned about the social ramifications of this incident.”After the girl was then taken to the hospital, investigators went to the home to collect evidence. But the mother told police her ex-husband “had already stripped the bed and she seemed convinced that any evidence would be gone.” The clothes the girl was wearing at the time had also been washed, the warrant says.In the bedroom, police found sheets stuffed into a pillow case in a corner of the room. The linens, plus a comforter and the mattress pad, were taken into evidence.Harrison later told police he may have been drugged before he went out the night of the alleged attack. “And that might explain his lack of memory and might explain his actions, but [he] clearly stated that wouldn’t be an excuse, merely an explanation,” the warrant says.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com

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