Middle schoolers plead guilty

Eighth-graders accused of inappropriate sexual contact

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— Two Steamboat Springs Middle School students plead guilty to unlawful sexual contact with another student Tuesday.

The eighth-grade boys were allegedly involved in a report of inappropriate conduct at the school last year.

One of the students changed his plea after pleading not guilty March 18 to charges of unlawful sexual contact, harassment and intimidating a witness.

The student was scheduled to stand trial for harassment and unlawful sexual contact charges April 16-18 and intimidating a witness on May 4. Two separate trials were scheduled because the intimidating a witness charge involved a second victim.

But the student and his parents accepted a plea agreement posed by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Multiple charges have been filed against eight middle school students for allegedly behaving inappropriately toward a girl last November.

Two boys have already pleaded guilty to harassment.

The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office is handling the case, but the Routt County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident because the middle school lies within the county's jurisdiction.

The courts are moving quickly to schedule arraignments and set trial dates because the family of the victim would like the see the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht indicated Tuesday that he would like to finish court proceedings surrounding the incident so that the victims, students and parents could move on.

Juveniles charged with criminal offenses have the same constitutional rights as adults charged with criminal offenses. Juvenile cases closely resemble adult criminal prosecutions during preliminary proceedings and the course of the trial. The distinction between juvenile delinquency cases and adult criminal cases lies in the sentencing or dispositional alternatives available to the juvenile court.

A restraining order in place against the boys was modified last month to allow contact with the victims so long as the victims were not harassed, molested, intimidated or retaliated against.

Other arraignments are scheduled for next month.

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