Basalt man suspected of sex crime

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A Basalt man faces a possible felony sexual-abuse charge involving a juvenile, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

John Matthew Cerise, 45, was booked into the Pitkin County Jail on Wednesday afternoon and posted $2,500 bond for his release a few hours later. His District Court appearance has been set for Jan. 6.

A narrative from Deputy Bruce Benjamin states that Cerise admitted to inappropriately touching a young female with whom he was familiar, perhaps “once or twice,” in an unincorporated area of Pitkin County. The report notes that the alleged victim, during a recent interview with investigators, was reluctant to cooperate. Her age at the time of the supposed incidents was not made public in the narrative.

“I met her and observed her very quiet demeanor and very closed body language, which included her arms being crossed and the gaze tilting downward toward the floor,” Benjamin wrote.

The girl described “some back rubs and similar non-private-part touching,” according to the narrative. “When asked for more specifics, she did not want to go further with details and her body language visibly closed, with closed arms and looking down.” The interviewer tried to get the alleged victim to disclose more details but to no avail, the report says.

According to the narrative, Cerise told investigators that his actions with the girl started “last year or the year before.”

“At some point I did mess up,” the report quotes him as saying. “I liked her a lot. I took a liking to her and she took a liking to me. I knew I was doing wrong.”

Later in the interview, according to the deputy’s report, Cerise admitted that he placed his hands on the girl’s lower private parts. He also told investigators that he has “made amends” with the girl and her family.

“This is big for me,” Cerise told investigators, according to the report. “I’ve never been in trouble with the law.”

The investigation remains open, the narrative says.