Climber sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault in Yosemite

A professional climber who repeatedly sexually assaulted a woman during a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park in 2016 was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Climber Charles Barrett, 40, received the maximum sentence for his February conviction on two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact, said Phillip A. Talbert, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Barrett “used his status as a prominent climber to assault women in the climbing community,” Mr. Talbert said. Three other women testified that he sexually assaulted them, although their cases were not federally charged because they fell outside the jurisdiction of prosecutors. “Barrett’s long history of sexual violence warrants the imposition of a life sentence,” Talbert said.

Timothy Patrick Hennessy and David A. Torres, Mr. Barrett’s lawyers, said in a joint statement Tuesday: “We believe the imposition of a life sentence was excessive. However, we will appeal.

This case illustrates growing concerns about the risk of sexual harassment and abuse faced by women increasingly involved in the sport of mountaineering, as more and more of them share their stories of harassment or even worse.

In August 2016, Mr. Barrett was living and working in Yosemite National Park when a 19-year-old woman went to the park for a weekend hiking trip, prosecutors said in court records. The park spans more than 747,000 acres along the west-central slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in east-central California.

Mr. Barrett sexually assaulted her three times in the woods and “he strangled her to the point that she feared death,” according to court records and evidence presented at trial. Prosecutors did not name the woman, but the abuse was detailed in court documents.

“I remember getting to the point thinking if he kills me, it’s over,” one woman who said she was abused by Mr. Barrett said in an affidavit.

Charles Barrett “used his status as a prominent climber” to target women who climbed, the prosecutor said.Credit…Mono County Sheriff’s Office

Prosecutors said Mr Barrett had a history of “publicly threatening and intimidating” his victims.

In 2017, seven years after assaulting one of the other victims tested in the trial, Mr. Barrett deliberately climbed in a climbing gym where the victim was present, prosecutors said.

“She then disclosed Barrett’s assault on her to the gym owner in the interest of protecting the other women at the gym,” the U.S. attorney’s office said, adding that Mr. Barrett responded by harassing and threatening the woman. wife for several years.

In August 2022, Mr. Barrett was convicted of the criminal threats he made in January 2022, prosecutors said.

While in prison in the 2016 Yosemite case, Barrett made hundreds of phone calls to victims during which “he showed no remorse or regret,” Talbert’s office said. said.

“Instead, he threatened violence and vindictive prosecution against the victims,” the office said.

Mr. Barrett was held at the Sacramento County Jail in California, speaking on behalf of Mr. Talbert’s office said Tuesday.

Cicely Muldoon, the superintendent of Yosemite National Park, said in a statement that Mr. Barrett’s “conviction sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior.”

Leave a Comment