Rock Climber Gets Life for Sexually Assaulting Women at Yosemite National Park

Rock Climber Gets Life for Sexually Assaulting Women at Yosemite National Park

Charles Barrett, 40, was sentenced in Los Angeles. (Mono County Sheriff's Office)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

6/6/2024

Updated: 6/6/2024

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A well-known professional rock climber from California was sentenced to life in federal prison for sexual assaults that occurred at Yosemite National Park, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced June 4.
Charles Barrett, 40, was sentenced in Los Angeles on Tuesday after a federal jury found him guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact that occurred in August 2016.
According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, the victim went to Yosemite for a weekend of hiking when Mr. Barrett, who was living and working for a private business at the park, sexually assaulted her three times.
During the trial, three other women testified that Mr. Barrett also sexually assaulted them.
The other alleged assaults were not charged because they were outside of federal jurisdiction, but were admitted as evidence during the trial because of the relevancy to the charged assaults.
“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert. “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.”
Prosecutors said that in 2017, seven years after Mr. Barrett allegedly assaulted one of the victims who testified, Mr. Barrett purposely climbed at a gym where the victim also attended.
The victim claims she reported the assault to the gym’s owner in an attempt to protect other women at the gym.
El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park is a magnet for climbers, who often camp overnight next to the wall during their ascent. (Dreamstime/TNS)

El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park is a magnet for climbers, who often camp overnight next to the wall during their ascent. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Mr. Barrett allegedly responded to the report by harassing and threatening the victim for several years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In August 2022, he was convicted for criminal threats he made in January 2022 related to the incident.
While he was in custody awaiting trial for the other sexual assaults, Mr. Barrett made hundreds of phone calls, authorities reported. During the phone calls, he showed no remorse or regret, prosecutors said. Instead, he threatened to use violence and vindictive lawsuits against the victims, claiming that they designed a conspiracy to ruin his life, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon said she was grateful for the work of investigators in solving the case.
“We are grateful for the tireless work of the National Park Service investigative team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to justice,” Ms. Muldoon said in a statement. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior. It makes Yosemite a safer place for the climbing community, park visitors, and our employees.”
This case was investigated by the National Park Service. U.S. Attorneys Michael Tierney and Arin Heinz prosecuted the case.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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