Routt County sex assault charges related to 1 child victim
April 20, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Court records show that former Heritage Christian School teacher John Brothers is suspected of sexually assaulting one child on eight occasions.
The Routt County District Attorney's Office filed a document with the court that detailed its request for a bond of $500,000.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle wrote the high bond is necessary because he thinks that Brothers poses a risk of not returning to court if he is released on bond and that Brothers is a danger to the community.
The document states that Brothers left Steamboat Springs in 2008 after being confronted "about inappropriate contacts with the child victim."
Routt County Sheriff's Office investigators did not learn about the allegations until March, when a resident contacted them with information.
The document also states that Brothers tried to contact the child victim earlier this month.
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"Defendant appeared to be soliciting information on the possibility of criminal charges being filed against him. Given the seriousness of the charges, the defendant's ongoing communications raise a concern that the defendant will seek to harass or intimidate the child victim in this case," the document states.
Brothers was arrested in Louisiana and booked into the Routt County Jail on Tuesday night. Bond was set at $500,000, and 27 felony charges related to sex assault involving a child have been filed.
Investigators think Brothers sexually assaulted the child between April 2006 and May 2008. During that period, Brothers taught middle school and high school classes at the private Christian school, which this year has 80 students. Some details surrounding the accusations have not been disclosed, such as the gender and age of the child involved and whether the child was a student at the school. Undersheriff Ray Birch said Friday that investigators have no reason to think the sex assaults occurred at the school.
On Thursday night, Birch visited with Heritage Christian School parents. He said about 30 to 40 current and former parents came to the private meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes.
"I did not sense any hostility or anger from the group," Birch said.
He said he was asked to provide information about the allegations and the victim, such as whether the victim was a student at the school and the age and gender of the victim, but he told parents he could not disclose that information because the investigation is ongoing.
"Getting that understanding was important," Birch said.
He said he discussed the characteristics of sex assault crimes involving juveniles and the profiles of pedophiles.
"I used the phrase, 'They're wolves dressed in sheep's clothing, and they're evil," Birch said.
He said he told the parents they should not blame themselves for anything that might have happened.
"I encouraged them not to try to figure out why because there is no sound reasoning," Birch said. "There is only one person that knows why, and he's incarcerated.
He said that parents had questions about how the case would progress through the courts and that parents were asking for advice about discussing the issue with their children.
"It was just one fantastic question after another," Birch said.
On Friday morning, Brothers appeared for the second time this week in Routt County Court.
He was represented at the hearing by Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 21. It is not likely the victim would testify at that hearing. Typically, preliminary hearings consist of testimony from law enforcement officials. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether probable cause exists to have the case moved to 14th Judicial District Court, which is where felony cases are handled.
Brothers has a pending case in Kentucky, where he has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse related to allegations that he sexually assaulted two youths at a church where he worked as a youth minister after leaving Colorado. He is awaiting a May 17 trial in Kentucky, but Uhlmann told Routt County Judge James Garrecht during Friday's hearing that the trial has been canceled. According to the Office of Circuit Court Clerk for the Henderson Circuit Court in Kentucky, Brothers' attorney has requested the trial be rescheduled. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday to discuss postponing the Kentucky trial.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com