Woman arrested in Aspen after alleged racial slurs
ASPEN – A woman with a history of misdemeanor arrests in Aspen was hit Wednesday with two felony charges based on allegations that she used racial slurs against a black woman and her son.
Transient Rani Grewal, 49, appeared confused and frustrated at her advisement hearing in Pitkin County District Court, where Judge Gail Nichols issued a $10,000 bond.
Grewal’s advisement comes after Aspen police arrested her Friday following complaints from a woman that she and her son had been “verbally accosted” by Grewal on a public bus and at Rubey Park, the Aspen hub for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
Grewal was initially transferred to Colorado West Regional Mental Health in Grand Junction, and the original charges were misdemeanor counts of harassment and disorderly conduct, prosecutor Arnold Mordkin said.
But Mordkin, after learning more about the incident, elected to file two additional felony counts: endangering public transportation, which carries a prison term of four to 12 years with a conviction, and stalking, which brings a one- to three-year prison sentence.
Grewal was transported to Aspen from Grand Junction on Tuesday night to face the new charges. She’s currently in Pitkin County Jail.
Prior to the July 24 incident, the alleged victim had complained to Aspen police that Grewal had called her the N-word over the course of three incidents dating back to June 2007. The accuser opted not to press charges over those alleged episodes.
But Friday, the woman and 7-year-old son were at Rubey Park waiting for a bus when Grewal allegedly approached the two and called the mother the N-word at least three times, remarking that “black people are moving in, this is turning into New York,” according to an affidavit written by Aspen Police Officer Jeff Fain. Fain’s affidavit was based on the alleged victims’ statements to police.
The mother and son then boarded the bus, and Grewal “sat down near (the mother and son), continuing to ‘babble’ about New York and other items,” the affidavit states.
Eventually, a RFTA supervisor removed Grewal from the bus, but the mother said her son had been scared by the incident. The boy also told police that Grewal took his hand while on the bus and asked him to go to New York with her.
The son was “very upset last night, and stated that we have to lock the door in case the crazy lady comes,” according to the affidavit. The mother and son also expressed concern for their safety, the affidavit says.
Nichols told Grewal that she is forbidden from having any contact with the alleged victims.
Grewal told the judge she had plans to move from Aspen “because this community is not supportive of me.”
Yet Nichols said one of her chief concerns was that a young boy was an alleged victim.
“Most troubling is the involvement of a child,” the judge said, adding that a condition of Grewal’s bond includes seeing her counselor at least once a week.
Grewal is due back in court Aug. 20.
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