Attorneys say disposition likely in Basalt choir teacher’s sexual assault case
A former Basalt music and choir teacher suspected of sexually abusing a student is heading toward a resolution of the case, according to both her attorney and the prosecutor.
Brittany von Stein was arrested Sept. 4 on three counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. At an Oct. 30 court appearance, she requested a preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Friday. Michael Fox, her attorney, informed 9th Judicial District Chief Judge James Boyd Friday that there was a change in plans.
“I’ve had a meaningful talk with the DA, and at this point we’re waiving our right to a preliminary hearing,” Fox said.
After Boyd confirmed with von Stein that she wanted to waive her right to the hearing, Fox requested the next appearance be set for March 3 for a possible disposition of the case. He said he had “collected some mitigation materials” in the case, but didn’t elaborate on what he discovered.
Zach Parsons, a deputy district attorney with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, agreed that the case is moving toward a plea disposition. He told Boyd that “something substantive” will happen March 3 or soon after.
The court case has been sealed because it involves a minor. Prior to the case being sealed, a Basalt police officer’s affidavit for an arrest warrant spelled out some of the alleged evidence against von Stein. Key pieces of evidence include sexually explicit text messages allegedly sent by von Stein to a student, according to the affidavit.
The texts were allegedly sent while the student was hanging out with friends one night. The student had fallen asleep and his friends read the texts, the affidavit said. One of the boys told a police officer about the texts Aug. 29.
That juvenile “said they saw messages from Ms. von Stein talking about kissing and sex,” the police officer’s affidavit said. “(The source) said the next morning, the entire group confronted (the student). (He) admitted that the texts were from Ms. von Stein. He further admitted to having an ongoing sexual relationship with Ms. von Stein.”
The alleged victim asked the other boys to “keep it a secret,” the affidavit said.
Investigators seized the alleged victim’s smartphone. On Aug. 30, the alleged victim told the police investigator that he had been having an ongoing sexual relationship with von Stein in January and February of 2019.
“I was able to document at least three separate encounters that (the student) said von Stein had sexual intercourse with him,” the officer’s affidavit said.
The student said his phone contained texts that detailed their sexual relationship.
The texts were a turning point in the investigation, according to the affidavit. Police opened the investigation Aug. 14 but the alleged victim initially denied having sex with von Stein. The student said his heavy workload required him to have private vocal lessons with von Stein.
“(The student) said that during one of those private lessons, he kissed Ms. von Stein,” the affidavit said. “He said she told him that no one could ever know that happened; it would have to be their secret.”
The student acknowledged he flirted with von Stein via texts and although she didn’t flirt back initially, she eventually became “very personal with him through text.”
The student initially told the officer there were rumors he was having sex with von Stein, but that it wasn’t true. He admitted he might have bragged to friends while intoxicated about having sex with her. He changed his story and acknowledged the alleged relationship after police learned about the texts.
The affidavit also said von Stein reported to school administrators in August that one of her students, a juvenile male, had kissed her during a private vocal lesson. The administrators asked the Basalt police department to open an investigation.
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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.