Sex assault case moves forward

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The district attorney has dropped an incest charge ag----ainst a 45-year-old man, but still plans to prosecute him for sexual assault.

The Routt County man ap----peared Wednesday in Routt County Court for a preliminary hearing. Although the DA's Office dropped the aggravated incest charge, it kept a second count of a sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

The man was arrested in December after DNA evidence, obtained through a warrant, confirmed that he was the father of a teenager's child.

Deputy District Attorney Tammy Harrell said the incest charge was dropped because authorities could not prove a legal relationship between the defendant and the victim.

After almost two hours of testimony from Routt County Sheriff Deputy Kurtis Luster and the victim's mother, Judge James Garrecht ruled there was probable cause for the sexual assault charge.

Luster testified that DNA tests from the defendant indicated a 99.99 percent probability that he was the father of the child in question. He also said the defendant admitted to having sex with the victim and said it only happened once.

Luster testified that the girl told him about an incident that allegedly happened one night at the defendant's home. The girl said he gave her two mixed alcoholic drinks called "mudslides," and that she noticed a crushed blue substance in one of the drinks, Luster testified.

She told police she asked the man about the colored substance and was told it came from blue Kool-Aid he had made.

The next morning, the girl said she woke up with her clothes in disarray and feeling strange.

The date of the alleged incident coincides with the time period in which her child was conceived, Luster said.

At the time of the incident, the defendant said that no pressure was applied to the victim and that he did not force her to do anything, Luster testified.

"He said it was just a terrible mistake. He couldn't remember the details, because he was trying to block it out of his mind," Luster said.

The alleged victim's mother testified that her daughter told her about drinking with the defendant and waking up the next morning confused. The daughter didn't say anything about having sexual contact with the defendant, her mother testified.

Garrecht refused Public Def--ender Trevor McFee's request to question the victim, saying the testimony given indicated she would not have perceived the sexual assault act. He also said the issue of consent was irrelevant, given the charge.

"The parental test indicates he is the father of the child, and the victim is the mother. Unless there was Immaculate Conception, there is no other way but sexual contact," Garrecht said.

The case was bound over to District Court, with arraignment set for May 27.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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