Four years later, former Aspen resident faces sex assault charge |

Four years later, former Aspen resident faces sex assault charge

Mauricio Hoyos-Hernandez lived and worked in the Aspen area for five years, but when police told him he was a suspect in the April 2017 sexual assault of an acquaintance, he disappeared.

On Friday he appeared in Pitkin County District Court to answer to the allegations — the culmination of a yearslong effort by police and prosecutors that included his arrest by U.S. Marshals in his home country of Colombia in June 2020 and a lengthy wait for his extradition.

“It took us about three years to get him back through an extradition process from Colombia to America,” Assistant District Attorney Ben Sollars said during a virtual court advisement for Hoyos-Hernandez on Friday. “He flew in last night to (Denver International Airport) and was brought into custody.”

Mauricio Hoyas-Hernandez, 36, of Colombia after being booked Friday into the Garfield County Jail, where Pitkin County prisioners are currently being held. (Courtesy photo)

A woman who identified herself as Hoyos-Hernandez’s wife appeared at the virtual hearing and said she lives in the Glenwood Springs-area community, and that her husband has “been deprived of liberty a long time awaiting extradition.”

Ninth Judicial District Magistrate Judge Jonathan Shamis asked her why her husband had been gone so long.

She said he enrolled in a master’s program in Colombia in 2017 that his parents helped pay for, which he completed. A public defender appointed Friday to his case said Hoyos-Hernandez was a teacher in Colombia, though court documents said he worked for a high-end clothing store when he lived in Aspen.

Hoyos-Hernandez is facing one count of felony sexual assault. Sollars asked Judge Shamis to set a $500,000 bond for Hoyos-Hernandez. If he’s able to post a bond, he would likely be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and simply deported back to Colombia again, he said.

Public defender Mackenzie Morris urged a lower bond, emphasizing Hoyos-Hernandez’s lack of a criminal history.

Shamis said he had “serious concerns” about Hoyos-Hernandez apparently fleeing the country four-and-a-half years ago and set a $100,000 cash-only bond.

Hoyos-Hernandez did not speak at Friday’s hearing. The alleged victim in the case appeared at the hearing but also did not speak. Sollars said the woman has been fully cooperative with the DA’s Office and urged a high bond.

Hoyos-Hernandez, now 36, told an Aspen Police detective that he had sex with a woman he met while out partying with friends in Aspen in April 2017. The woman, however, told police she was extremely intoxicated that night and went to emergency room at Aspen Valley Hospital afterward because she thought she’d been sexually assaulted, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court in May 2017 but sealed until June 2020.

Hoyos-Hernandez was unclear about the details of the evening, though he said the sex was consensual. The woman, however, told police she was not attracted to Hoyos-Hernandez, that he was not her type and that throughout their interaction that night in Aspen she thought he was gay and never even considered flirting with him, according to the affidavit.

Investigators also reviewed surveillance from a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus, which showed the woman on the verge of passing out as Hoyos-Hernandez helped her off the bus and to her apartment, thus making her incapable of consenting to sex, according to the affidavit.

Once it became clear Hoyos-Hernandez had fled the area, police and prosecutors began the extradition process, which had to go through the U.S. Attorney’s Office and receive the approval of the American and Colombian governments before an arrest warrant could be approved. The Colombian government approved the warrant — accusing Hoyos-Hernandez of sexual assault — in January 2020 and U.S. Marshals stationed in Colombia arrested him outside his work in Bogota in June 2020.

He has presumably been incarcerated in Colombia since then.