Oak Creek man arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek man arrested on suspicion of child sexual assault

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An Oak Creek man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a child.

A 28-year-old man, who recently moved to the area, allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a girl of an undisclosed age over several months last summer, according to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Routt County Justice Center. It describes the man as a family friend of the girl.

The names of the accused and the girl are not being released to protect the identity of the victim.

Oak Creek Police Department officers initiated an investigation in August after receiving several screenshots of conversations they claim were between the man and girl.

One of the messages, which appears to have been sent over Facebook Messenger from a man, explicitly mentions sexual activity.

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It reads, "A quickie sounds good, but I'd be happy snugglen boo I don't have to have sex everyday."

The heavily redacted affidavit states the screenshots do not include an identifying phone number or the name of the man who sent the message, but officers were able to link them to the Oak Creek man through several interviews with people close to him.

Officers obtained a search warrant Aug. 30 to confiscate the man's phones and other electronics.

When officers presented the man with the warrant and told him about the sexual assault allegation against him, he denied having a sexual relationship with a child.

He later admitted to sleeping with the girl but "just as friends."

When officers asked him to unlock his phone, he refused, claiming they would find evidence of criminal behavior or "illegal things" on it, according to the affidavit.

It appeared the man deleted several messages on his phone before turning it over to officers. They were eventually able to unlock the phone. An investigation of its contents revealed numerous photos of the man and girl together, sometimes on a bed.

An officer involved with the case described the two "cuddling" in the photos or in other intimate situations, according to the affidavit.

In September, officers interviewed the girl involved with the case. She admitted to meeting the man at the beginning of last summer after he moved to Oak Creek.

She mentioned that their relationship eventually became physical, involving oral and penetrative sex over several months. One instance involved public intercourse at Decker Park in Oak Creek.

The girl told officers that both of them knew what they were doing is illegal.

"They agreed to be secretive about it," the affidavit says of their relationship.

The girl told officers she and the man went so far as to investigate the legal ramifications of having sex with a child, but they agreed to continue the relationship regardless.

After further investigation, officers filed a warrant for the man's arrest in December. He appeared before the Routt County Combined Court on Thursday afternoon for a status conference, and his bail was set at $20,000.

He is charged with Class 3 felony sexual assault on a child.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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