Sentencing delayed for convicted Aspen yoga instructor
November 2, 2010
ASPEN – Former Aspen yoga instructor Steven Jon Roger will have to wait until Nov. 12 to learn his punishment for two misdemeanor convictions of sexual contact with his students in 2008.
Roger, 49, was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Pitkin County Court, but after some 90 minutes of talks with defense attorney Tamas Viski-Hanka and prosecutor Richard Nedlin, Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely postponed the hearing.
Among her concerns, the judge said she wants to hear from the two victims, who did not attend Wednesday’s hearing but testified in the September jury trial. Additionally, the judge said she wants to clearly understand how Roger views his role in the crimes and how he would “mitigate [the victims’ damages].”
Meanwhile, Roger’s attorney, Viski-Hanka, suggested that he might appeal the verdict, possibly on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. The Denver attorney said he also needs to review transcripts from the trial to see if there are other grounds on which to appeal.
It’s the possible appeal that had Viski-Hanka and Roger unclear on how to proceed Wednesday. Should Roger, at next week’s sentencing hearing, take full responsibility for the crimes, he could, in theory, receive a lighter sentence. However, by taking full responsibility, Roger would be admitting guilt, which could be held against him at a later date, should he prevail on his appeal and be granted a new trial.
Nedlin is seeking consecutive 60-day jail sentences for each conviction, along with four years of probation. As an alternative, Roger could be sentenced to a maximum of four years in jail – two years for each conviction. He also faces up to a lifetime on the sexual offender registry.
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In September, a four-man, two woman jury convicted the popular yogi after a four-day trial. Roger worked for 02 Aspen for 2 1/2 years, during which time the incidents occurred. He was arrested in January 2009 on allegations that he touched the genitals of at least two students during class. He originally faced felony charges, but a senior judge dismissed them on the grounds that intrusion did not occur.
Nedlin later filed six misdemeanor counts against Roger, eventually dismissing four of them.