Judge approves attempted rape charge against Basalt man

A district court judge ruled Tuesday that probable cause exists to charge a Basalt man with attempting to rape a female tourist in the bathroom of a downtown bar a month ago.

District Judge Chris Seldin cited video surveillance of the incident played in court Tuesday — which recorded the victim’s screams and her running out of the bathroom — as well as her statements that Robert Marlow held her against a wall and exposed himself to her as evidence that supports a charge of attempted sexual assault.

“Holding a woman against her will while displaying your penis seems like the most obvious inference to me (of attempted sexual assault),” Seldin said. “I’m not sure what other spin you could put on that behavior.”

The incident allegedly occurred July 7 at a downtown Aspen restaurant and bar with relatively secluded bathrooms located down a flight of stairs at the back of the establishment. The victim — a young woman from out of state — told police she went to the women’s bathroom about 1 a.m., but found Marlow, 40, inside with his pants down.

At that time, she became scared that she might be in the wrong bathroom, and quickly exited, said Aspen Police Detective Jeremy Johnson. She said she then entered the men’s bathroom across the narrow hallway, but Marlow allegedly barged into the room behind her before she could close the door, pushed her up against the bathroom wall, told her she wasn’t going anywhere and began pulling his pants down, he said.

The woman then told police she began to kick, punch and scream, and was able to get the bathroom door open and flee back into the bar area, where her male companion and bar employees were located, Johnson said.

Marlow was later identified after Johnson was able to take a still photo from the video surveillance and hand out copies to night shift officers, who took it to bars around town. A bar manager at another downtown bar recognized Marlow as an employee, and he was arrested July 9 in Basalt, Johnson said.

Ashley Andrews, Marlow’s public defender, said her client never touched the victim’s private areas, tried to kiss her or made any statements about his intent to rape her. She said he was embarrassed to have been found in the women’s bathroom and tried to correct his mistake and entered the men’s bathroom.

“If he wanted to sexually assault someone, he could have at least grabbed an intimate part or kissed her in the bathroom,” Andrews said. “Perhaps the victim misconstrued Mr. Marlow’s intent.”

Seldin said the explanation was plausible, until the woman begins to scream on the video and runs away.

The video played in court Tuesday shows Marlow first sitting at a booth outside the bathrooms, though he enters the women’s bathroom just before the victim comes down the stairs and does the same. Not long after, the woman yells something like “No!” and “F— off!” before she screams and runs out of the bathroom.

Marlow pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charge against him and was set for trial in early January. He remains incarcerated in lieu of a $20,000 bond.


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