Judge to render decision in alleged Aspen yoga sex case

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A preliminary hearing for an Aspen yoga instructor accused of sex crimes ended Monday with no decision on whether he will have to stand trial.

At the hearing’s conclusion, Senior Judge Edwin G. Ruland said he wanted to take some time to consider the evidence presented against Steven Roger. The afternoon hearing was held in Pitkin County District Court.

Roger faces two felony counts of sexual assault and related misdemeanors that stem from alleged incidents within the past few years. The incidents involved different women, with each of the alleged offenses taking place at O2 Aspen, a court filing says.

In one instance Roger is alleged to have “slipped his hand” under a woman’s pants and “around her vaginal area,” said Aspen police Detective Chris Womack during testimony. Womack was the prosecution’s only witness in the hearing.

The incident occurred while the woman was in a pose in which she was squatted down on her knees with hands out front.

The other incident involved a woman who was in a position with her legs straight and body bent over at the waist. Roger had one hand on the woman’s back and another on her stomach.

He allegedly slid his hand underneath her clothing and toward the buttocks. Womack interviewed both women within the past two weeks. Each woman claimed they did not give Roger consent to touch them as they alleged.

Defense attorney Tamas Viski-Hanka argued the charges were not justified, saying the prosecution is alleging sexual intrusion, which did not happen. He said sexual intrusion must be more than “touching.”

He called for the two felony counts to be dismissed. The misdemeanor counts were not considered at the preliminary hearing.

Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin countered that “however slight” there was sexual intrusion, and that was enough to justify the charges and bound Roger over for trial.

“We think it fits within the statute,” Mordkin said.

Ruland suggested that he would need a few days to consider the matter. If he determines there is enough evidence that Roger committed the crimes, a trial date will be set.


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