Aspen girl speaks out in video about alleged rape
A 16-year-old local girl who says she was raped by two Aspen acquaintances has brought the #MeToo movement directly to the heart of the Upper Roaring Fork Valley.
Paige Quist posted a two-and-a-half-minute video to YouTube late last week in which she says she wants to inform people “about some recent events” related to the Oct. 9 arrest of Keegan Callahan, 20, and a 17-year-old boy who The Aspen Times is not identifying because he is a juvenile.
“I came forward and I reported it because I was raped by both of them,” Quist says in the video. “And I know — or I’ve heard — there are other people in the valley who’ve had this happen to them.”
Law enforcement officials said they are investigating other alleged incidents including the suspects.
In the video, which was posted Thursday and is titled “I Will Not Be Silenced,” Quist says she wants to encourage anyone who might have been assaulted by one or both of the two males to speak out and report it. She also says she wants to be a pillar of support for any other victims, while pointing out that “a huge support system” exists in the Roaring Fork Valley to help people deal with sexual trauma.
In an interview Tuesday, the Aspen High School junior said she wants victims of sexual assault to know she understands the “terrifying fear” they face in coming forward, but that “good things can come out of it and that justice will be served.”
“I want to bring awareness (of sexual assault),” Quist said. “There’s such a stigma of silence (around it) and I don’t want that to happen anymore.”
Audra Quist, Paige’s mother, said Tuesday she and her husband fully support their daughter.
“I’m glad she’s coming forward,” Audra Quist said. “Obviously, it’s nerve-wracking. I’m very sad and mad it happened to her, but she’s talking about it in a way you’d want someone to talk about it.”
Paige Quist said she was prompted to make and post the video after opening up last week at Aspen High School about why she left the valley for about two months recently. The alleged assault by Callahan and the boy occurred at the end of the summer, she said.
After the conversation, someone suggested she should be careful about sharing what happened to her because it might have happened to others who weren’t ready to hear about it, Quist said. That reaction didn’t sit well with her.
“I was annoyed and hurt that I could be silenced,” Quist said. “I don’t have a choice to have to go through this, and if I want to speak (about it) I should be able to.”
Callahan and the 17-year-old were each charged Oct. 9 with one count of the highest level of sexual assault available under Colorado law. That Class 2 felony version of the crime only applies to cases in which a defendant is aided or abetted by another person, the victim suffers serious bodily injury or the defendant is armed with a deadly weapon, according to Colorado statutes.
Details of the alleged crime have not been released because the cases are sealed, so it was not clear Tuesday which of the three applies in Quist’s case.
If convicted of the crime, however, the defendants could face 16 to 48 years in prison with the possibility of a life sentence if they decline sexual offender treatment while behind bars.
Callahan is being held at the Pitkin County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash-only bond, while the teen remains incarcerated at a juvenile facility in Grand Junction. Quist spoke at both detention hearings last week asking the judge for the highest bail amount possible.
The 17-year-old has been charged as an adult, though his lawyer has filed a motion to transfer the case back to juvenile court.
Prosecutor Don Nottingham said last week that Callahan and the 17-year-old also are likely to be arrested and charged with similar crimes allegedly committed in Eagle County. Additionally, the 17-year-old is suspected of committing a similar crime in Garfield County, Nottingham said last week.
On Tuesday, Nottingham said police are conducting “multiple investigations” into the two males but declined to comment further.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo confirmed Tuesday that one of those investigations centers on allegations that the juvenile boy had sexual contact with a 5-year-old girl three years ago. The case was not reported at the time because the girl’s grandmother didn’t want to ruin the boy’s life, according to a police report.
DiSalvo said he met Tuesday with a task force of police officers from upper Roaring Fork Valley law enforcement agencies investigating Callahan and the boy.
“This is the highest priority of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the other agencies right now,” DiSalvo said.
Arnold Mordkin, the 17-year-old’s attorney, said Tuesday he was aware of Quist’s video.
“It seemed extremely strange to me,” Mordkin said. “It’s the first victim I’ve come across that wanted the world to know who she was.”
Callahan’s attorney, Abe Hutt of Denver, did not return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.
Paige Quist said Tuesday that she doesn’t know any of the other alleged victims connected to Callahan or the boy. However, she said that other girls and boys have approached her since she posted the video and shared similar stories of sexual assault, while praising her for her bravery in speaking out and bringing the #MeToo movement (which she tagged on her video) to the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I’m beyond thrilled that people can come to me and use me for support,” Quist said. “Everyone is scared that they would not be supported and that people will turn against them.
“They have to realize that they didn’t do anything to cause this.”
Quist, who has lived in the Aspen area for about five years after moving here from Florida, said she has received some backlash from people who don’t believe Callahan and the boy are capable of sexual assault.
“If I had heard this a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it either,” she said. “But it’s true.”
Details of the allegations in Quist’s case are not publicly available because documents related to Callahan’s case have been sealed by a District Court judge at Nottingham’s request. Documents related to juvenile cases are not publicly available under Colorado law.
However, Quist said that once the case is adjudicated, she plans to speak about it in more detail to bring about increased awareness. She also plans to write a book.
“I’m hoping at least for people to speak up so it doesn’t happen to other guys or girls,” she said.
Skyla M. Piccolo-Labbs, 23, William C. Ellifritz, 26, and Brooke L. Forquer, 21, all from Craig, were arrested on one count each of first-degree murder and booked into the Routt County Jail around 11:40 p.m. Saturday.