Juvenile pleads guilty to sexual assault in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Juvenile pleads guilty to sexual assault in Aspen

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A 16-year-old male pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault in Pitkin County Juvenile Court on Monday in connection with a June 13 incident that occurred near a playing field next to the Aspen Recreation Center.

The alleged female victim also was a minor. Their names are being withheld because they are juveniles.

The 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office has recommended a sentence involving two years of supervised probation and a deferred judgment. If the youth is not arrested or convicted of any crimes during the two-year period, then the felony charge will be dismissed. He then can petition to have his criminal record sealed by the court.

During his arraignment Monday, Judge Gail Nichols scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 15.

The youth is expected to serve his probation in another state. Nichols ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, which includes a psychosexual evaluation, in part to determine whether he is likely to be a repeat offender. His sentence likely will include mandatory counseling sessions, the judge suggested.

The youth, who said he was a high school junior, also is barred by a protection order from contacting the victim. In court, under questioning from Nichols, he admitted that he had sexual relations with someone who was "incapable of appraising the conduct."

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Under Colorado law, a felony sexual assault charge can be applied "if the actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim's conduct."

"Was she incapable of understanding what the two of you were doing?" Nichols asked the boy.

"Yes," he said.

Prior to setting a sentencing date, Nichols reminded the youth that she is not required to accept the recommendation from the District Attorney's Office. She advised him that the probation period and mandatory counseling would be a difficult process and told him he would be required to register as a sex offender.

However, prosecutor Andrea Bryan pointed out that in the state where the youth is moving, juveniles are not required to register as sex offenders.

A third party reported the incident to the Aspen Police Department, which conducted an investigation. As the investigation was in its early stages, the department issued a statement calling the matter "isolated and specific to two minors, who had some level of relationship."

The mothers of both youths were present during the arraignment.

In other Juvenile Court matters Monday:

• Formal charges have been filed against a 16-year-old Basalt High School student accused of brandishing a knife in a confrontation with three other male students Oct. 22.

The youth responded to Nichols' questions with the help of a Spanish-speaking interpreter. He faces a felony menacing charge and an expulsion hearing before school officials.

Nichols reminded his parents that their son cannot leave his home without supervision. He also is required to wear an ankle monitor.

Nichols told the boy that even if he is expelled, other education opportunities are available in the Roaring Fork Valley.

"Even if expelled, you can go to school somewhere else. There are choices," she said.

The incident allegedly occurred in a boy's locker room. His next court appearance was set for Dec. 1.

andre@aspentimes.com