Steamboat Springs A man classified as a sexually violent predator appeared in Routt County Court on Wednesday for a status hearing.
Ronald Eugene Noel, 44, is facing charges of failing to register as a sex offender in Routt County. He was the subject of a community notification hearing last month at which the sheriff's office identified him as a sexually violent predator and distributed his name and picture.
Noel was arrested during a traffic stop by Steamboat Springs police Oct. 28, 2006, for failing to register in Routt County. Noel registered two days later. He is considered a transient and lives out of his car in Milner.
After Noel's hearing, Noel and his attorney, Bill Fritsche, said complicated statutes and misunderstandings led to the arrest.
Noel said before he was arrested, he had been pulled over by Colorado State Patrol on three occasions for driving infractions.
"I assumed everything was in order," Noel said.
The March 23 community meeting about Noel was mandated by a state statute that applies when a person classified as a sexually violent predator moves into a community.
A sexually violent predator is the most severe classification given to a sex offender.
Noel was convicted in Oregon in 1998 of first-degree sexual abuse on a girl who was between the ages of 5 and 8. The girl knew Noel, Sheriff Gary Wall said. It is Noel's only sexual conviction.
The crime Noel was convicted of did not classify him as a sexually violent predator. Noel was given the status because he failed to register as a sex offender in Oregon.
Fritsche told Routt County Judge James Garrecht on Wednesday they had not reached a plea agreement with Routt County Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James for the failing to register charge.
"Offers went off the table because of the community meeting, and the DA is fearing bad publicity," Fritsche told the judge.
St. James said Fritsche's argument is off the mark.
"I think we evaluated the case and made decisions based on our reasonable judgment," St. James said.
A preliminary hearing has been set for 4 p.m. April 17.
Fritsche has said the community should not be afraid of Noel.
Noel said he has been living in Routt County off and on for 20 years.
"Sometimes people that aren't familiar with me would be shocked, and probably if I was on the other side, I would be shocked given the allegations," Noel said Wednesday.
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