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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Parachute cop arrested for sexual assault

by Troy Hooper, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer - April 22, 2008

A police officer from Parachute was arrested Saturday on suspicion of sexual assault. It was not immediately clear why Kristopher Duncan, 25, was being held in Pitkin County Jail on Monday as opposed to Garfield County Jail, the jurisdiction where he was arrested, although it seems likely it is for his own safety. “Why he is in the Pitkin County Jail, that’s a question for someone else to answer. I suspect it’s for security reasons. Police officers are not the friend of other inmates and they can be treated harshly,” said 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, whose agency handled the arrest, did not return phone messages seeking comment. Jailers in Aspen said Duncan was on a “courtesy hold” but referred questions about the matter to Garfield County. He remained in Pitkin County Jail on a $7,500 bond Monday night. He is charged with class-four felony sexual assault, which carries a possible sentence range of two years to life in prison.

Parachute Town Administrator Robert Knight confirmed Duncan’s arrest and said the officer’s employment was terminated Friday “for violation of code of conduct and this incident (the sexual assault allegation) was related to it.” Knight said that Duncan was hired in February and was an officer in training. He declined to answer further questions. Knight also said that he and other high-level officials in Parachute were unaware that Duncan was being held in Aspen.

Details of the alleged sexual assault were scarce yesterday but prosecutor Gail Nichols, who earlier in the day advised Duncan of the charge against him in the judge’s chambers, said it occurred sometime on April 18 and that the victim was an adult. She declined to provide details about the incident, such as the victim’s sex or age, adding that a heavily redacted arrest affidavit should be available for public inspection today. Duncan is due in Garfield County District Court on April 30 at 1:30 p.m. He has been ordered to stay away from the purported victim should he post bond.

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