Woman convicted in Griffith Center sex assault case arrested in Junction
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. A 29-year-old woman convicted of having sexual contact with teenage boys at the former Emily Griffith Center in Rifle was arrested last week.Charalene Dawn Bera was arrested by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 11 for failure to register as a sex offender. She posted a $1,000 bond the following day, according to the Mesa County Combined Courts office. She is still expected to appeal the case she lost at trial in February.According to an arrest affidavit, Bera signed two notices to register as a sex offender acknowledging her duty to register, the first in February. She arrived at the sheriff’s office to register on Sept. 5, made false statements about registering with the Grand Junction Police Department, and left without completing her registration form, the affidavit says. It says Bera told a deputy she had more important things to do and asked how long it would take. Several days later after Bera met with her probation officer, the Mesa County Deputy called her again. Bera falsely said the deputy had the wrong number, according to the affidavit, and she was arrested the next day at her grandmother’s house in Grand Junction after failing to return phone messages or register.Bera has taken a step toward appealing the original case, but an appeal wasn’t filed as of Tuesday afternoon.She was recently granted an order waiving standard fees required to begin the appeal process that normally amount to around $250, according to clerk of the Combined Courts for Garfield County James Bradford. The order also allows for a public defender to carry out her appeal. Such a request is generally granted under the assumption that the individual cannot afford to pay the fees or pay for a private attorney.Bera’s attorney at trial, Joseph Olt, couldn’t be reached for comment.Although a jury found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on five of seven charges, Bera has maintained her innocence and said the boys who testified against her lied to get back at her for reporting their contraband at the center.Bradford estimated his office in the 9th Judicial District sees around three or four appeals each year. An arrest won’t prevent Bera from appealing.”It certainly doesn’t bar her or stop her from moving forward on her appeal,” Bradford said.Chief Probation Officer Shawnee Barnes said that Bera’s probation officer plans to file a violation of probation complaint regarding the failure to register as a sex offender. The complaint would likely act as a mark against Bera’s conduct under probation.”We have also heard she is going to file an appeal,” Barnes said.Bera was sentenced on Aug. 28 to 10 years to life of sex offender intensive supervised probation. A jury in February convicted Bera of five of seven charges: three counts of sexual assault on a child 15 to 17 years old by a person in a position of trust; one count of sexual assault on a child, victim in custody; and one count of unlawful sexual contact, victim in custody.A 15-year-old and two 17-year-olds legally ordered to be at the center testified she had inappropriate contact with each of them in February 2006. One boy testified that she helped him escape from the center and offered to drive him to Cortez.The Emily Griffith Center closed in June. A Griffith Centers for Children representative said the center had trouble retaining quality staff, was no longer profitable and that the closing reflected a national trend toward fewer referrals for residential care.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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