Sexual assault case gets dismissed

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— Charges have been dropped against a man accused of sexually assaulting a girl younger than 15 years old.

The District Attorney's Office asked Wednesday that the charges against the man be dismissed.

"It's not that we don't believe it happened -- it's that we don't believe we can prove (it) at this point," Deputy District Attorney Erick Knaus told the court.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht, serving as the active District Court judge, dismissed the case without prejudice. That means that if new information surfaces, the District Attorney's Office could refile charges, Knaus said.

The man has been in custody since early March, Knaus said. He will be released but will return to California, where he reports to a parole office.

Charges were filed in the winter of 2003 after the girl reported what had happened, Knaus said. It took authorities awhile to find the man, who was in Texas, but he eventually was arrested and first appeared in court in March.

He then was charged with sexual assault by a person in a position of trust, which allegedly took place in Routt County during a period of 13 months, Knaus said.

Knaus told the court that the case has carried on for a few months because the District Attorney's Office wanted to be "very, very careful" with how it proceeded with each step.

According to the court's motion on Wednesday to dismiss, reasons for dismissal included that the complaining witness no longer wanted to prosecute and that considering the strengths and weaknesses of the case, the district attorney made the decision not to prosecute.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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