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Two big stories dominated online comments to aspentimes.com this week. News of the impending demise of Aspen’s Red Onion, which is set to close for good on March 31, caused locals and ex-locals plenty of lament. And the debate over whether the district attorney’s office made the right decision by reducing charges against a man found in bed last winter with an 8-year-old girl remained heated.On the loss of the Red Onion, one reader sent in this very succinct comment:Welcome to Rodeo Drive East. Damned shame.Another had this to say:It stinks, first the Cooper Street Pier and now the Red Onion. Aspen must be sick.And Dave McCormack, a former resident of nine years, suggested government intervention.Wow, what’s Aspen thinking? Why isn’t the City Counsel doing something to stop the money hungry property owners from pushing out the locals, after all they made Aspen “Aspen”! Without them it’s just another ski resort with no personality. Watching the “SOUL” of Aspen slowly being killed makes me sick. Stop the bleeding already!!And this reader probably said a few things many of us are thinking:Many folks come from out of town and expect to stop by the Red Onion as part of their trip. How many more Art galleries, retail spaces, and high end restaurants does Aspen need? When will we seriously consider historical charm vs. the god almighty dollar? When news broke two weeks ago that the DA had offered Steven Harrison, a Marin County, Calif., man caught in bed with an 8-year-old girl last winter while vacationing in Aspen, a generous plea bargain, comments poured in. A follow-up story last week that included quotes from the alleged victim’s father also stirred opinions that represent both sides of the debate.One reader reminded us evidence is needed, and guilt must be proven.Allow me to jump in: I’m sure we shouldn’t lock up every person who we’re unsure about… what kind of world would it be if anyone could cause their enemies to be imprisoned just by making a few allegations? Proof is required, and it would be a much scarier place if it weren’t. As for inviting people on my next vacation, I’d rather vacation with a man who has gone through the system and been cleared, than risk spending time with someone who might choose to lock me up the first time we have a disagreement, since evidence isn’t important to you.But another had this point of view:Wow. Call me crazy but if I caught a man in bed with my nine-year-old daughter, with his pants undone, and my daughter told me he molested her, that would be enough evidence for me. You are obviously more evolved than I because I surely would not want this “man who has gone through the system” at my home. Good luck on your next outing with Harrison. Oh, and if he sexually molests your child I hope you have millions of dollars to fight his lawyers.Another reader chastised the girl’s parents for not focusing on her:My personal opinion is that when parents are around their children (as these people were on their vacation) boozing it up and going out to the Caribou Club is not exactly focused on the best and well being of the kids. My first thoughts were why were these parents (including Harrison (the accused) and the mother of the girl (the accuser)) out partying at a place that most people go to for some tail??? I think the real lesson is that when on vacations as families, focus on the kids. Harrison apparently had an alcohol problem and is now getting treatment. Sounds like the mother of the victim might have issues too – hopefully she’s getting treatment too. Apparentely a lot of the details we all “know” are all from our beloved Aspen Times in the articles on it that first came out. I love our local rag, but it ain’t no New York Times. It’s mainly worth reading for ski reports 🙂 As another post above stated, we have to have faith in our DA and the Court that the evidence was not there and that’s why the case was dismissed – not because any “deals” or pay-offs were involved and that rich people get away with crap. I believe the court systems go out of their way to protect the victims. The case had to have been dismissed because of stuff we just don’t know about and never will. I feel bad for the kid – because it sounds like the poor kid is the victim of being around irresponsible parents (including her own) who drink and party too much.And one person was ready to hire Harrison as a baby-sitter.I am a Marin County parent and would certainly rather have Mr. Harrison watch my children than the parents of the “alleged” victim. If you spend any time with both sets of parents, it will become clear why. So please don’t level comments from afar unless you know the facts and the people involved. As I’m sure you know, what you read isn’t always true especially in a case like this when so much of the evidence is sealed. I suggest you not condemn a man based on facts of which you are unaware. Readers at aspentimes.com may comment, anonymously if they wish, by clicking Comments at the top of any article. Those published here are reprinted as they were posted, without editing or correction.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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