Criminal case against Basalt High School teacher sealed from public scrutiny

Brittany von Stein and her attorney, Michael Fox, depart a Garfield County courtroom in September.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

The criminal case against a Basalt High School teacher arrested on suspicion of having sexual relations with a minor student has been sealed by a judge’s order.

Therefore, the formal charges filed by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office against Brittany von Stein are currently unknown. Von Stein appeared in court for the first time Wednesday to be advised of the charges against her. Her attorney, Michael Fox, waived a reading of the charges. He also waived reading of a protection order issued to prohibit Von Stein from any contact with the alleged victim.

It is highly unusual for a criminal case against an adult to be sealed. The only time cases are typically sealed is when they involve a minor. It wasn’t disclosed in court if the minor’s family or another party filed the motion to seal the case.

Von Stein is due back in court Oct. 29. Fox told Magistrate Susan Ryan he is preserving the right to a preliminary hearing in the case, which determines if there was enough evidence to support forcing a defendant to stand trial.

Von Stein, 26, of Carbondale, was arrested at her home Sept. 4 on three counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, a felony. She was released from Garfield County Jail after posting bond. A Basalt police officer’s affidavit in support of the arrest warrant presented the details of the alleged contact between Von Stein, the former choir director and music teacher at Basalt High School, and one of her students. Key evidence was allegedly sexually explicit texts between Von Stein and a student. The affidavit was available at the time of the arrest because there wasn’t a judge’s order to seal the case at that time.

The Basalt Police Department opened the investigation of Von Stein after being contacted by officials with the Roaring Fork School District last month. Von Stein had been placed on leave since the start of the school year.

The school district hired a replacement choir director and music teacher last week. The new teacher, Christina Wenning, started at Basalt High School on Tuesday, according to a district spokeswoman. Wenning earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance and musical theater from Ohio Northern University and her master’s degree in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy from the Ohio University.


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