Former would-be monk makes first court appearance for sex charge
ASPEN – A former monk in training at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass made his first court appearance Monday to face a charge connected to an alleged sexual assault on a boy in the early 2000s.
Senior Judge Paul McLimans on Monday set July 11 as the arraignment date for Wilfred Laurent Carignan, 72, who faces one class-three felony count of sexual assault on a child – position of trust – pattern of abuse. Public defender James Conway noted that the alleged offense is a “very serious case” against Carignan, who worked at the monastery from 1996 to 2001 as a beekeeper and was a monk in training.
The alleged sexual acts did not occur at the monastery; the alleged victim claims they happened at a nearby home in which Carignan resided at the time, as well as during a trip to Crestone, Colo.
Carignan currently is serving separate prison sentences of six and eight years to life in Fremont Correction Facility in Canon City, on two felony convictions of sexual assault of a child out of Delta County.
Under state law, the prosecutor has six months to try him from the date he was detained on the new charge – April 6. But Carignan agreed to have the six-month period activate from the time of his arraignment hearing.
Meanwhile, details of the events leading to Carignan’s most recent arrest are spelled out in a statement of facts written by Bruce Benjamin, juvenile investigator for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The statement, made public Monday, was written Feb. 17 in support of an arrest warrant signed Feb. 22 by District Judge Gail Nicholas.
In the statement, Benjamin recounts how on Sept. 10, as relayed to him by investigator Ron Ryan (now the county’s undersheriff), Ryan met with Father Joseph Boyle, along with the monastery’s secretary and Tom Smith, the monastery’s attorney. Also attending the meeting, held at the monastery, was then-Sheriff Bob Braudis.
The secretary told authorities that on Aug. 31, he found an envelope on a windowsill on the inside of the monastery bookstore. The letter had come from the mother of a boy who allegedly had been molested by Carignan, though it did not mention the suspect by his full name but gave details that revealed his identity.
According to the letter, “Bill, the beekeeping monk from about ten years back did have perverted words and acts too with my son. He was hired to tutor him and these school lessons were in a private home near yourselves. My son has not gone into details, but this is odd. Now a young man, [name deleted] does still feel violated. Response, to him, would be helpful and acknowledgment.”
Father Boyle, at the meeting, told officials he believed the man to be Carignan.
Benjamin tracked the letter down to Louisiana, where he learned the alleged victim, now 21, lives. He spoke to both the alleged victim and his mother, who recalled that Carignan tutored her son four or five times at a home about 4 miles from the monastery. The mother, not knowing about the relationship at the time, also had taken her son to visit Carignan in Paonia, and allowed the two to take a trip to Crestone.
It was not until a year before she left the note that her son told her about the allegations, according to Benjamin’s statement.
In November, Benjamin spoke to the alleged victim, who said that Carignan improperly touched him at his Old Snowmass property and on the trip to Crestone.
As part of his investigation, Benjamin also reviewed Carignan’s criminal cases from the 7th Judicial District – where he was convicted in 2008 for molesting two boys in 2003. According to the files, Carignan admitted to investigators in Delta County that he had carried on sex acts with young boys and men.
According to one report obtained by Benjamin, Carignan “was in the Monastery for 6 years. He wanted to be celibate with women, so he went to boys. … While in the Monastery, all of his transcendental sex went up. He didn’t need sex there. … Bill did not believe what he has done is morally wrong.”
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