Female court officials irk alleged harasser
A 65-year-old man charged with sexually harassing two young women who rented rooms in his house said Tuesday that Pitkin County Court officials are prejudiced against him because they are women.
“I consider this court very biased,” Alwin Knirlberger said. “The magistrate is female. The DA is female.”
Knirlberger was in court to plead guilty to a count of attempted unlawful sexual contact, though Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely halted the proceedings after his statements alleging bias. Knirlberger then conferred with his defense attorney, also a woman, and later appeared in front of the judge again and entered a guilty plea.
In exchange for the plea, the District Attorney’s Office dropped counts of solicitation for prostitution and sexual contact without consent, while also agreeing not to ask for a jail sentence. However, as part of the plea, Knirlberger will not be able to rent rooms to female tenants, will have to register as a sex offender for five years, pay more than $500 restitution to his alleged victims and undergo whatever treatment probation officials deem necessary, Ely said.
Prosecutor Sarah Talbott said she will ask the judge to impose five years of supervised probation when Knirlberger is sentenced in September.
Aspen police arrested Knirlberger in February after one of his tenants told them she came out of her room to give him a rent check and found him sitting in the living room “with his pants pulled down around his ankles,” according to a police report. A few days later, the woman decided to move out and asked Knirlberger for the rent back.
“I’ll give you $200 if you give me sex,” he told her, according to the police report.
The woman then walked outside and called police.
The woman’s roommate reported that Knirlberger touched her buttock while she was doing dishes around the same time. Three days later, Knirlberger entered the woman’s room while she was in bed, showed her an orange pouch and asked her if she wanted to use it, the report states. She asked what it was and he told her it was a condom, the report states.
The woman told Knirlberger to get out her room and later moved out.
“Looking into Knirlberger’s history, it appears as though he has been accused of similar behavior previously,” the police report states.
Ely also ordered Knirlberger to undergo a psychosexual evaluation before his sentencing.
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