Guilty plea entered in sexual assault incident at South Canyon ‘hot pots’ earlier this year |

Guilty plea entered in sexual assault incident at South Canyon ‘hot pots’ earlier this year

Kenneth Hartley
Garfield County Detention Center booking photo

A New Castle man has pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact and marijuana distribution stemming from an incident at the undeveloped South Canyon hot springs in early February.

Kenneth Hartley, 60, entered the plea before Garfield County District Judge Denise Lynch during a Thursday morning court appearance.

Unlawful sexual contact is a class 1 misdemeanor carrying a possible sentence of up to 24 months in the county jail, completion of sex-offense specific probation and registration as a sex offender.

Hartley was already a registered sex offender from previous violations, according to court records.

The drug count is also a class 1 drug misdemeanor carrying a possible sentence of an additional 18 months in jail. Sentencing is scheduled for the afternoon of Sept. 16 before Judge Lynch.

Hartley was initially charged with felony sex assault and three misdemeanors for his actions the afternoon of Feb. 7 when, according to an arrest affidavit, he offered a 16-year-old female marijuana and then had sexual contact with her when they were soaking with other individuals in what are commonly known as the “hot pots” near the South Canyon Landfill.

Hartley remained free on bond as his case was being heard. He was arrested by Glenwood Springs Police following a report by the victim and family members that he assaulted the girl by touching her “privates” with his foot and hand while in the pool, according to the affidavit.

Following the incident, police contacted Hartley, who was still at the hot springs, and also talked to others who were there at the time to gather witness statements.

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, according to the affidavit.

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. Discussions are also beginning about possibly developing the site as a visitor attraction.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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