EAGLE, Colorado - A jury took two hours Monday to acquit a local man of all three sexual assault charges he was fighting.
Alfred Bamberger, 74, a local homeopath, was charged with sexually assaulting a female teenage patient he was treating for eczema. He was accused of having the girl strip and lie on her back on a massage table while he rubbed cream on her.
The trial took six days. The jury got the case and began deliberations at 2 p.m. Monday, after two and a half hours of closing arguments.
"This case has become a show," defense attorney Kristen Frost said. "It's a tragedy that they have turned Alfred Bamberger's good intentions into a sexual assault."
During the trial, two doctors testified that the alleged victim looked like a burn victim, Frost said.
The series of treatments had seen the alleged victim's eczema get worse after she started a "cleanse," as Bamberger testified that he told her it would.
"They said it was the worst case of eczema they had ever seen," Frost said to the jury. "Use your common sense. Alfred Bamberger, 74 years old and respected by so many people in this community, is going to wake up one day and decide that this 15-year-old sick girl is the one? It makes no sense."
Naive, not cautious
Bamberger was alone in a massage room with the alleged victim, with the door closed, and asked her to disrobe so he could apply some ointment, according to testimony. He testified that he closed the door because there was a class outside.
"Alfred Bamberger is naive, but well intentioned. In this instance he was not cautious enough, unfortunately," Frost said.
In her closing arguments, prosecutor Colleen Clark asked the jury of nine women and three men in the alleged victim's place.
"Imagine you're a 15-year-old girl and every time you go, things get creepier and creepier, weirder and weirder ... and that everything that happens is between you and me," Clark said. "He recommends that your parents don't come with you. On the very first appointment your parents don't come, he asks you to disrobe."
The alleged victim told police investigators that Bamberger hugged and kissed her on her cheek and down her arm, like actors would before they make love in a movie.
"A 74 year old man ... is going to start biting her flaky cheek? Does this make sense?" Frost asked.
When asked what movies she's seen where people bite one another's cheek before sex, the alleged victim answered "Titanic," Frost said.
"It's the state's case that should be going down," Frost said.
Frost took dead aim at the police investigation and victims' advocates who she said planted the idea in the alleged victim's head that she'd been sexually assaulted.
"It's life ruining. Sex assault is one of the worst things you could possibly be accused of," Frost said. "The alleged victim's family did not want to press charges, but the cops certainly did," Frost said.
Six weeks passed between that first police interview with the alleged victim and Bamberger's arrest. During that time, the Sheriff's Office asked others who think they might have been victimized by Bamberger to come forward. None did, Frost said.
"If there was a serious sexual predator out there, assaulting teenagers, would they wait six weeks before arresting him?" Frost asked the jury.
Bamberger talked to investigators without an attorney present, and let them search his office.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.