Man accused of Aspen sexual assault agrees to plea deal |

Man accused of Aspen sexual assault agrees to plea deal

Joel Stonington
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” An Alabama pilot accused of trying to sexually assault a woman at the Inn at Aspen on New Year’s Eve pleaded guilty to felony third-degree assault Monday.

James Ryan Clifton, 37, was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation with specific stipulations regarding alcohol abuse.

Felony charges of attempted sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Clifton originally was charged with attacking a woman, who was a guest at the hotel, in the hallway during the early morning hours of Jan. 1, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Feb. 16, 2007, by Pitkin County Deputy Brad Gibson.

The alleged victim told Gibson that Clifton had pulled her down a hallway, forcefully kissed her, ripped open her pants and attempted to rape her as she screamed for help. According to court documents, the entire attack lasted between 10 and 15 minutes.

The attack was foiled, the affidavit states, when a co-worker of the victim heard the calls for help and chased Clifton outside, where the two got into a fist fight.

When deputies arrived, Clifton was being taken to Aspen Valley Hospital in an ambulance, court papers allege. Defense attorney Greg Greer said Monday that Clifton was hospitalized because of injuries sustained in the fight.

“This was a New Year’s celebration gone amok because of too much drinking,” Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said.

As part of the plea deal, Clifton agreed to attend monthly counseling sessions, refrain from using drugs or alcohol and get tested for alcohol and drugs on a regular basis during the next three years. He also must write a letter of apology.

Nichols said the victim agreed that the resolution in the case was appropriate. Clifton had no prior criminal record.


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