Sex assault case trial begins |

Sex assault case trial begins

Susan Cunningham

Jurors were selected and opening arguments given Monday in the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in May.

The man, who lived in Steamboat Springs and was 35 years old at the time of the assault, faces two felony charges: The sexual assault charge is a Class 4 felony, and the charge of using force during the assault is a Class 3 felony.

Eight men and four women, and one alternate juror were chosen. The selection took almost the entire day, with just enough time late in the afternoon for opening arguments.

The trial is expected to last through Friday.

The incident took place during the late hours May 16 and early hours May 17, attorneys said during their opening arguments.

The man and the woman met at a grand opening party for a dance studio in downtown Steamboat, where they danced and talked, both the defense and prosecution said. The woman was 25 years old at the time and also a Steamboat resident.

Later that night, they decided to go for a walk, according to the opening arguments. They held hands and talked and kissed as they walked along the bike path. At one point, both the defense and prosecution said, the man touched the woman under her skirt but stopped when she told him to stop.

They walked to the baseball diamond and down into the dugout, where they sat down on a bench and kept talking, both the defense and prosecution said.

Both the defense and prosecution said that the woman and man then had intercourse.

But Deputy District Attorney Erick Knaus told jurors that the woman did not give consent to the sex, and repeatedly told the man “no.”

“She’ll tell you (that) by the time she realized what was happening, it was too late,” Knaus said.

When she told him to stop, Knaus said, “His reply (was), ‘Just kiss me.’ That’s what she’ll tell you he told her.”

The woman pushed the man away with her feet, Knaus said, and went back to the dance studio to tell a friend what happened. The friend took her to the hospital ,where she reported the incident to police.

Public Defender Gail Morrison said that during the walk and sexual interaction, the man stopped when the woman asked him to stop.

They “begin to have sex,” she said, and “at some point (the woman) says … stop, and he did.”

Morrison said that the man was innocent of all charges.

“When her consent turns to regret, he honors that,” Morrison said. “How do you know it was consent? Because actions speak louder than words.”

Morrison told jurors to watch for inconsistencies in the woman’s testimony.

Knaus told jurors that the woman was drinking throughout the day leading up to the incident, but was not drunk at the time of the incident.

He encouraged jurors to, “watch for that fine line where date turns to rape.”

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail

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