Would-be Snowmass monk pleads guilty in sex case
The Aspen Times
ASPEN – A former monk in training at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass pleaded guilty Monday to committing a sexual act on an adolescent boy eight to 10 years ago.
Wilfred Laurent Carignan, 73, also was sentenced by District Judge Gail Nichols to four years in state prison, which will run concurrent with the time he’s currently serving for similar convictions out of Delta County.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin, as part of the plea agreement, agreed to drop one felony count of sexual assault on a child – position of trust – pattern of abuse. Carignan pleaded guilty to a new count: attempted sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years old.
“Mr. Carignan, do you understand the deal you’ve made with the prosecution?” Nichols asked.
“Yes, I do, your honor,” he replied.
Nichols said the sentence is “very appropriate.” That’s because Carignan had previously been convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child in Delta County, where he was sentenced to separate prison sentences of six and eight years to life in state prison in September 2008.
The sentencing judge and law-enforcement officials working the Delta County case also were aware that Carignan had confessed to the improper relationship he had with the young boy while living in Old Snowmass.
That confession, however, was unbeknownst to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office when it launched an investigation into Carignan in the fall of 2010. The probe came after the monastery, which received an anonymous letter pertaining to the allegations, notified the Sheriff’s Office in September 2010.
In November 2010, Bruce Benjamin, juvenile investigator for the Sheriff’s Office, traveled to the victim’s Louisiana residence to interview him. The victim said he was 11 and 12 years old at the time of the offenses, which included oral sex and masturbation.
“This is the appropriate solution,” Mordkin said. “The victim has been thoroughly advised and wishes the court to accept this sentence.”
Carignan worked at the monastery from 1996 to 2001. He was the facility’s beekeeper and was not accepted as a monk, a position for which he was training. The sexual acts occurred between Jan. 1, 2001, and July 10, 2003, and not on the grounds of the monastery.
Carignan currently is incarcerated in the Fremont Correctional Facility in Canon City. He is eligible for parole on Aug. 29, 2016, according to records from the Department of Corrections.
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