Preliminary hearing set for ex-day care worker accused of grooming, improper contact |

Preliminary hearing set for ex-day care worker accused of grooming, improper contact

Judge grants defense attorney's request to lift all restrictions associated with defendant seeing his children

A Pitkin County district judge set an April 4 preliminary hearing date for a former day-care center worker arrested last year for allegedly having inappropriate interactions with two children. 

At Tuesday’s virtual hearing for 41-year-old defendant Christopher Tedstone of the Basalt area, Judge Chris Seldin reserved three hours for the preliminary hearing — a court procedure in which the prosecution tries to show a judge the evidence is sufficient enough to bind the case over to trial.

The hearing will be held in person, at the request of the defense, in the Pitkin County District Courtroom.

Tedstone did not speak at the hearing other than responding to Seldin’s question concerning the age of his two children. Tedstone has had restricted contact with his two children since his Dec. 5 arrest, and the hearing addressed the defense’s request to modify a protection order to allow Tedstone to see them without limitations or supervision. 

Seldin granted the request from Nick James, Tedstone’s defense lawyer, to lift all restrictions associated with Tedstone’s seeing his children. Tedstone remains prohibited from associating with minors, a condition of his release from jail on $50,000 bond.

Seldin said he was basing his decision on findings from a court-appointed behavioral therapist, the support of Tedstone’s wife, and a determination from the county’s health and human service department.

Seldin acknowledged that a therapist “opined that there is no risk whatsoever to Mr. Tedstone’s children from being in his care. And that, in fact, he believes it’s essential for their development that they not have interrupted bonding and attachment with their father.”

Tedstone worked at a midvalley day-care center from late December 2019 until July, when he was fired, his former supervisor previously told The Aspen Times. Authorities say he groomed and inappropriately touched two children attending a day-care center, charging him with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. A conviction of the class 3 felony charge carries four to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines. 

Seldin in December modified a protection order by allowing Tedstone maximum two-hour, supervised daily visits with his children. He also asked the county’s health and human service department to evaluate the safety-risk of allowing Tedstone to have unrestricted, unmonitored time with his children. 

“The department (of health and human services) did not provide any input and essentially advised the court that there were not grounds for an investigation, in its opinion, and provided no caution to the court about allowing that contact,” said Seldin.

Tedstone has yet to enter a plea but professed his innocence to The Aspen Times after his arrest. 

“The court has also heard that the children’s mother supports contact between Mr. Tedstone and his own children,” Seldin said. “While I understand that the children’s mother is Mr. Tedstone’s wife, nevertheless it’s been my experience that a mother will always put her children’s interest ahead of the interest of her spouse. That’s really been my experience without exception, so the fact that the children’s mother doesn’t believe there is a safety issue, the DHS has not advised the court that there is a safety issue, despite being specifically solicited to advise the court on that question, and now I have an experienced and well-thought-of therapist who works with children and families who is not only advising the court that not only is contact appropriate, it would be detrimental without contact.”