North Carolina man arrested on child sex assault charges in Oak Creek
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A North Carolina man who recently moved to the area was arrested May 10 on suspicion of sexually assaulting a girl in Oak Creek.
The 26-year-old man, who has two young kids of his own, faces three felony charges: sexual assault on a child, enticement of a child and luring a child over the internet, according to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Routt County Justice Center.
The Oak Creek Police Department did not release the victim’s age but confirmed she was under the age of legal consent. Her name, along with the name of the accused, also are not being released to protect the identity of the victim.
The charges date back to January, when the man made arrangements with the girl’s family to travel to Oak Creek from his home in North Carolina and stay with the family for about three days, according to the affidavit.
Oak Creek Police Chief Ralph Maher described the man as a family friend of the victim “in the loosest of terms.” According to Maher, the man has no direct connection with another North Carolina man arrested in Oak Creek in March on similar charges.
During an interview with police, the girl said that during his visit, the man invited her into the bed where he had been sleeping. The two kissed, and he touched her genitals, according to the affidavit.
The daughter told her mother about the incident in February after the man returned to North Carolina.
Police obtained screenshots of Facebook messages from February between the man and the victim’s mother in which she confronts him, calling him a “pedophile” and a “child molester.”
In those messages, the man seems to admit engaging in sexual activity with the girl but does not give details about what happened.
“I got scared and quit before it went any further,” he writes in one message.
He sent the mother a series of messages, concerned that she would tell police about the incident.
By April, the man had moved to Oak Creek and tried again to talk with the mother, who refused to see him.
These messages, along with the victim’s interview, gave police probable cause to arrest and interrogate the man. Maher described the interview with him as “complex.”
“There was no outright admission, but there was no credible deniability,” Maher said.
The man’s bond has been set at $10,000. As of Friday afternoon, he had not posted bond and was still an inmate at the Routt County Jail.
With two sexual assault arrests in Oak Creek in the past three months, Maher is concerned about what appears to be a spike in such incidents.
“The Oak Creek Police Department is receiving reports of these incidents on what, at least to me, is an alarming basis,” Maher said.
In Colorado, the age of consent is 17. Younger individuals cannot legally consent to sexual activity with adults. If the law is violated, adults can face serious criminal charges that could land them in prison for life.
“The adults in these cases have made bad choices and bad decisions,” Maher said.
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