Professional rock climber sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault at Yosemite

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A professional rock climber was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison in the 2016 sexual assault of a woman at Yosemite National Park, federal prosecutors said.

Charles Barrett, 40, was sentenced for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Phillip A. Talbert.

Barrett was living and working at the national park when a woman visited there in August 2016 for a weekend of hiking. Barrett sexually assaulted her three times, according to court records and evidence presented at trial, prosecutors said.

Three other women testified at Barrett’s trial that he also sexually assaulted them, prosecutors said.

Barrett was not charged in those assaults because they occurred outside the jurisdiction of federal prosecutors, but the women’s testimonies were admitted during trial as relevant to the charges Barrett faced, prosecutors said.

“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence,” Talbert said. “He used his status as a prominent climber to assault women in the rock-climbing community, and when his victims began to tell, Barrett responded by lashing out publicly with threats and intimidation. This case is a testament to the courage of the victims who reported these crimes.”

Attorneys listed as representing Barrett could not immediately be reached for comment by NBC News on Tuesday afternoon.

One of his attorneys, Timothy P. Hennessy, told the judge a life sentence was not appropriate because Barrett suffers from a mental health illness, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. Another attorney representing Barrett, David Torres, said he plans to appeal the case, the newspaper reported.

Barrett has a history of intimidating his victims, prosecutors said.

In 2017, seven years after he allegedly assaulted one of the women who testified against him at his trial, prosecutors said, Barrett purposely climbed at a rock-climbing gym that the woman attended. She disclosed Barrett’s sexual assault to the owner to protect other women at the gym, prosecutors said.

Barrett then harassed her for years, according to prosecutors. In August 2022, he was convicted for criminal threats he made earlier that year, prosecutors said.

While in custody in his latest case, prosecutors said, Barrett made hundreds of phone calls and threatened to use violence and retributive lawsuits against his accusers.

Read More: Professional rock climber sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault at Yosemite

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