Defendant in ‘hot pots’ incident charged with misdemeanor-level sex assault
Hartley remains free pending court proceedings
A New Castle man accused in a sex assault involving a teenage female at the South Canyon hot springs earlier this month has been charged with a felony and three misdemeanors for his alleged actions.
The lone felony charge read to Kenneth Hartley by District Judge Denise Lynch during a video court hearing Thursday was for contributing to the delinquency of a minor — a class 4 felony — for allegedly offering the 16-year-old girl marijuana.
In addition, Hartley faces misdemeanor charges for sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and indecent exposure.
Hartley, 60, is already a registered sex offender, according to a police affidavit in the case. He remains free pending his next court hearing on March 4.
Hartley was arrested by Glenwood Springs Police following a Feb. 7 report that he assaulted the girl by touching her “privates” with his foot and hand, according to the affidavit.
The girl and a family member reported that they stopped by the natural hot springs, commonly known as the “hot pots,” about 2 p.m. that day.
Hartley allegedly offered the girl marijuana, which she told police she declined, according to the arrest affidavit in Hartley’s court file.
A short time later, as they were soaking in one of the pools, they said Hartley entered naked and sat near the girl. He initially brushed his foot against the girl’s leg, which the girl indicated she first thought was an accident.
However, he then allegedly proceeded to put his foot and then his fingers inside her shorts, according to the affidavit.
Soon after the incident, police contacted Hartley who was still at the hot springs, and also talked to others who were there at the time.
Hartley told police he did not intentionally touch the girl, and that it was she who “kept asking him for marijuana,” the affidavit states.
Another male who was at the hot springs at the time told police he observed the incident, and that it was obvious Hartley was inappropriately touching the girl underwater.
After the arrest, Glenwood Springs Police issued a request for information about any other incidents at the hot springs involving Hartley, as he apparently frequents the area.
If convicted on the felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge, Hartley could face between six and 12 years in prison. The misdemeanor charges each carry a possible sentence of 18 months incarceration and up to a $5,000 fine. He would also have to continue to be registered as a sex offender, Lynch advised.
The hot springs are located on city land along the South Canyon Road, just below the entrance into the city-owned landfill. Over the years, the city has attempted several times to limit or prevent access to the springs, which are naturally occurring.
Three years ago, the city entertained a proposal by Iron Mountain Hot Springs owner Steve Beckley to privately develop the springs into a tourist attraction and campground. Tests done by Beckley at the time found the spring source itself to be clean, but the makeshift pools to be highly contaminated by bacteria.
The development idea met with some community opposition and never moved forward.
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