A Durango man has been charged with sexual assault on a child about two weeks after a girl accused him of inviting her into his home and touching her without consent, according to law enforcement.
The girl, who is under the age of 15, told police she was walking southbound on the northern section of Animas River Trail on Aug. 12 when a man named “Rich” invited her into his home in the east 100 block of 29th Street, according to arresting documents. Law enforcement identified the man as Richard Devenero, 27.
According to an arrest affidavit, the girl knew Devenero as the stepfather of one of her friends. Devenero saw the girl on the Animas River Trail behind Durango High School and invited her over to wait for her friends – his stepchildren, according to police and arresting documents.
Her friend never showed up.
Instead, while waiting in the home, the girl said Devenero asked if she wanted a hug – an advance she declined – then proceeded to touch her inappropriately, according to the arrest affidavit. The girl told law enforcement Devenero grabbed her with both hands over her clothing.
She “peeled” his hands off her body and “was afraid during the incident and ran out of the residence,” according to the affidavit.
Another man on the Animas River Trail saw the girl “calm but ‘clearly weeping’” about 10 a.m. near the Durango Public Library, according to police. She told the passerby she’d just been sexually assaulted and asked to use his cellphone to contact law enforcement.
A responding Durango police officer drove with the girl in his patrol car along the Animas River Trail when her “face went pale” and she “began to quickly gasp and cry and said ‘that’s him’ while pointing to a man walking on the River Trail,” arresting documents show.
“Devenero was noticeably nervous, as I could see his hands shaking and his voice sounded to be cracking,” the arresting officer wrote in an affidavit.
The officer looked back to his patrol car and saw the girl sitting in the front seat crying with her head “turtling” into her shirt. She “appeared noticeably distraught,” law enforcement wrote.
Devenero told law enforcement the girl “vented to him about family drama” when she came to his home and that they sat close to each other on a couch.
He denied touching her, according to Durango police.
He also said the girl looked “out of it and dazed,” that she’d been “stumbling around” and that she “took ‘dabs’ earlier,” law enforcement wrote in arresting documents, referring to concentrated marijuana extract.
The arresting officer said he did not see the girl “stumbling or anything of the sort,” according to arresting documents.
Devenero declined further questioning when law enforcement took him to Durango Police Department and requested a lawyer. An officer took the girl to meet up with her father, who recounted a story his daughter told him that matched what she’d told law enforcement earlier.
The 6th Judicial District Attorney’s office charged Devenero on Thursday with sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony punishable by two to six years in prison, fines of $2,000 to $500,000, or both.