‘Fork’ remark at Aspen restaurant could lead to long prison term
A Denver man could face more than three decades in prison after he was charged late last month with assaulting and seriously injuring an elderly man at an Aspen restaurant this summer, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Charles Schaper, 50, was charged with second-degree assault on an at-risk person for allegedly pushing an 85-year-old man to the ground and breaking four of his ribs after the man made an off-color comment about Schaper’s girlfriend, according to Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham and police reports.
“(The victim) was pretty injured,” Nottingham said. “It’s why we don’t allow people to assault older people — because they’re fragile.”
If convicted of the charge, Schaper would face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 32 years because the victim was more than 70 years old and considered “at risk,” Nottingham said. Schaper appeared in Pitkin County District Court on Monday and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in January.
A voice message left Wednesday for Schaper was not returned.
The situation with the 85-year-old man, who was visiting Aspen from the New York City area with his wife, occurred Aug. 31 at Jing restaurant on Main Street in the downtown core, according to an Aspen police report. The couple was having dinner with a couple from Florida, when another woman “in a red floral dress bent over their table to speak to the occupants of another table,” thereby placing her “butt” over their table, the woman from Florida told police.
“(The Florida woman) said that she asked the female to move away from their table but that she did not respond and continued talking to the occupants of the other table,” the police report states. “(The Florida woman) said that her 85-year-old friend … said to the table that he might just put a fork up her ass to get her to move.”
The remark did not go over well with Schaper, the woman’s boyfriend. The two men got into a confrontation, with Schaper allegedly in the elderly man’s face and acting in an “accosting” manner, though the situation remained verbal at that point, according to the Florida woman quoted in the police report.
The elderly man told police that later when he left the restaurant, Schaper came up to him and shoved him, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head and his back.
“I don’t know if he punched me or what, but it caused pain in my side,” the 85-year-old man told police, according to the police report. An emergency room doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital later confirmed the man suffered serious bodily injuries.
Two men told police they witnessed the incident and, according to one, that Schaper “assaulted an older male by pushing him to the ground and making him fall into the host stand,” the report states. Schaper left the scene afterward, the witness told police.
Police were able to track down Schaper through his dinner reservation. On Sept. 3, he told an Aspen police officer by phone that the elderly man “said he ought to stick a chop stick in” Schaper’s girlfriend after she bent over the table, the police report states. He said the elderly man made the remark a second time, which Schaper thought was “very inappropriate.”
When they were leaving, the 85-year-old man repeated the remark a third time, Schaper told police.
“He said he confronted the man and told him his behavior was inappropriate,” according to the police report. “He said the man tripped and fell to the floor. He said people were yelling. He said he and (his girlfriend) left quickly to get away from them.”
On Oct. 2, the victim told police that his injuries were debilitating.
“I’m suffering,” he said at the time, according to the police report. “I sleep in a chair as it’s too painful for me to lie down.”
Schaper turned himself in Oct. 4 at the Pitkin County Jail.
While it will be postmaster Elizabeth Turner’s first busy season in Avon, it’s far from her first holiday-shipping crunch.