Sexual assault charges dropped

Advertisement

A sexual assault case against a former Craig man has been dismissed after accusations that trailed him for nearly three years.

Bonnie Roesink, the 14th Judicial district attorney, dismissed the case Thursday.

The dismissal came one day after Chief District Judge Michael O'Hara reprimanded the District Attorney's Office and reduced the charge from a felony -- which has a potential penalty of life in prison -- to a misdemeanor. O'Hara's ruling came after a motions hearing that revealed violations of due process on the part of prosecutors.

Roesink said she spoke with the alleged victim before dismissing the charge.

After the felony charge was amended to a misdemeanor, the woman decided not to go to trial, Roesink said.

"She had been persistent up until yesterday," Roesink said. "We explained to her what had happened and asked her what she wanted to do. She said she didn't want to go forward."

The attorney for the defendant, Colorado Deputy Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, said the District Attorney's Office was wrong to prosecute the case.

"We think that this (dismissal) is the right thing to do and should have happened a long time ago," Uhlmann said. "We're delighted (the defendant) can go on his way in peace."

During the motions hearing, Uhlmann told the court that the defense thought the woman fabricated the story. The woman was a teenager at the time of the alleged incident.

It was an opinion shared by Craig police, who wrote a letter to Roesink expressing their concern about the accuser's story.

According to court records, there were numerous problems with evidence in the case; some evidence wasn't turned over to the defense, despite court orders; some evidence was lost; and blood samples were improperly stored by the Craig Police Department.

When O'Hara reduced the charge in the case as a sanction against the District Attorney's Office, he said he hoped it sent a message that prosecutors need to be more careful about following procedural rules.

Roesink said there will be changes at the District Attorney's Office to make sure similar problems don't recur.

She's developing a checklist prosecutors can use to make sure each case is handled properly.

"We'll be having a staff meeting in June to determine as many procedures as possible to prevent the problems that happened in this case," Roesink said. "There are dozens and dozens of things you have to do."

She also plans to meet with police, as well as Uhlmann, to go over the case and find ways to establish better cooperation between the agencies involved in criminal proceedings.

Uhlmann said Roesink apologized to the court and the defense for the problems in the case.

"I felt terrible," Roesink said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.