A Rifle man now accused of sexually assaulting six minors in his trust over multiple years will remain in the Garfield County Jail on $100,000 bond.
Garfield District Judge Denise Lynch on Thursday denied a request from the man’s defense attorney to reduce bond to $50,000, noting the severity of the case and the growing number of alleged victims who have come forward.
“These are serious allegations … with 19 counts currently filed, and a likely prison sentence (if convicted),” Lynch noted in rejecting the bond reduction.
“From reading the paperwork filed by some of the various victims, he is a safety risk to the community and even to himself,” she said, indicating the defendant has threatened to take his own life.
The 54-year-old man, whose name is not being used in order to protect the identity of the victims, has been in jail since his March arrest after the allegations came to light.
According to Garfield County Sheriff’s Office investigators, the man allegedly sexually abused one child in his care on numerous occasions from the time she was age 4 until 2018 when she was 13.
Several other alleged victims, including friends of the primary victim who were at the home or on overnight outings, also eventually came forward with similar allegations against the man, according to court documents.
That number has now grown to six minors who have alleged varying degrees of victimization, Assistant District Attorney Ben Sollars said during the Thursday hearing.
“This case is extraordinarily aggravated in my opinion,” Sollars told the judge. “It’s certainly the worst child victimization case that I’ve ever prosecuted.”
Sollars said the DA’s Office is still gathering information from those additional victims, which has delayed the case.
Ultimately, he said it will not be a matter of whether a sentence upon conviction would involve prison time, it’s how much time the defendant would be sentenced to serve.
Defense attorney William Palmer argued that, because the defendant has already served 266 days in custody of the county jail, he should be allowed an opportunity to make bail.
“We believe $50,000 is a lot more reasonable given the time he’s been in custody,” Palmer said, noting that the man has family living locally and does not have a prior criminal history.
The matter was continued to Jan. 6, 2022, for an arraignment hearing, during which Sollars indicated there may be a plea offer on the table.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.