Profane tantrum leads to Pitkin County Library ban |

Profane tantrum leads to Pitkin County Library ban

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A 48-year-old woman was banned from the Pitkin County Library for a year Wednesday for throwing a profane fit that prompted police to escort her out in handcuffs.

Willow Leponto, no address or hometown available, was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct after the incident, which occurred June 25, 2014, at the library building on Mill Street currently being renovated.

On Wednesday, an Aspen Municipal Court jury of two women and one man took about 10 minutes to acquit her of the trespassing charge and convict her of the disorderly conduct charge. In addition to the ban, she received seven days in jail, though Judge Brooke Peterson suspended that portion of the sentence.

The incident began after Kelly Benninger, an assistant librarian, heard Leponto repeatedly yelling the F-word while using one of the library’s public computers, Benninger testified Wednesday. Benninger said she asked Leponto not to swear in the library.

At that point, a male patron at another computer became agitated and told Leponto to stop cursing because children were present, Benninger said. An annoyed female patron also told Leponto to “shut up,” she said.

Leponto then began swearing at them, so Benninger said she asked her to leave. Leponto, however, ignored her, put her headphones back on and went back to what she’d been doing on the computer.

Benninger said she then called police, who arrived in about five minutes. She said Leponto was “defiant” with the officers, but gathered up her belongings and started to walk out with the two officers. However, at the door, Benninger testified she heard Leponto screaming again, saying, “Let go of me. You’re hurting me. Leave me alone.”

Aspen Police Officer Terry Leitch testified that Leponto began flailing and screaming at the door, making it necessary to handcuff her for her own safety and that of others. Leponto was not injured in the incident, said Lawson Wills, her lawyer.

After a year, if Leponto wants to go back to the library, she must make a request in writing and it will be up to the library to decide if she’s allowed back.

The city paid about $65 a hour for Wills to serve as Leponto’s lawyer because she is indigent, said Debbie Quinn, assistant city attorney.