Peter Nardi admits he’s no angel. But the Aspen man insists he’s no rapist, either.
Charged with one count of felony sexual assault on Monday, Nardi visited The Aspen Times on Wednesday to make the case that he’s innocent.
“These are only allegations, and I did nothing,” said Nardi, 50, who bartends at a downtown restaurant.
Nardi doesn’t have an attorney. He and Arnold Mordkin parted ways last month when Nardi couldn’t afford to pay the Snowmass Village defense lawyer. He said he will try to hire a public defender before his next scheduled court appearance on May 20.
Nardi, who once owned and operated a tavern in Snowmass, has a checkered past, with previous felony convictions.
But he said the sexual-assault charge he now faces, which came after an April 6 incident with a woman, is unfounded.
“I wasn’t raised to hit women,” he said. “I’m a gentleman. I open car doors for women.”
But Detective Ian MacAyeal, of the Aspen Police Department, said Wednesday that the evidence against Nardi is solid. MacAyeal said Nardi has brought forth character witnesses to the police department to vouch for him. And Nardi has shown MacAyeal text messages from the woman he allegedly sexually assaulted. The messages were sent to him in the days before and on April 6. In several of the messages, the woman professes her love for Nardi. MacAyeal, however, said the events of the night are what the authorities are concerned about.
“We haven’t seen anything that’s contradicting what (the alleged victim) is saying,” MacAyeal said. “The evidence that we have and the investigation that we’ve done for the victim shows that we’re right on track with the investigation.”
The woman told police that Nardi was in her apartment unit when she arrived home at 12:40 a.m. April 6. She alleged that Nardi then took her captive, forced water down her throat, beat her, covered her with a pillow, shoved his underwear down her throat, sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she called the police. Later that day, Aspen police, after being contacted by the woman, arrested Nardi while he was driving west on Main Street.
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols initially set his bond at $400,000 after his April 6 arrest. But at an April 9 hearing, prosecutor Andrea Bryan asked the judge to slash the bond to just $2,500 based on new findings.
On Monday, Bryan said that what’s in the affidavit is still the basis for the current charges against Nardi, which also include attempted second-degree assault and third-degree assault resulting in bodily injury.
Nardi, however, said he had been seeing the woman for eight months and she had been hostile toward him, including the night he allegedly raped her. (The affidavit says that he digitally penetrated the woman; authorities do not believe intercourse took place.)
He said that despite the woman’s physical abuse toward him, he stayed with her “because I love her.”
Regarding the April 6 incident, Nardi said the woman returned home from a night on the town and was angry with him because he had told her two children, ages 12 and 14 and Texas residents, that she had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Aspen.
“She started punching me in the chest and stepped back and clocked me in the mouth,” Nardi said.
He denied all of the woman’s allegations against him, calling it “crazy, made-up stuff” and suggesting he acted in self-defense.
“I did protect myself,” Nardi said. “I held her wrist, and I did push her away by the throat.”
MacAyeal said the woman’s story is credible.
“Her story did not change, period,” MacAyeal said. “She was just as upset two days later as she was when Officer (Terry) Leitch just contacted her. She was scared. She’s a victim of what we think may have been a horrible crime. Something bad happened that night, and this has turned into a high school drama with Peter and all of his friends coming up as character witnesses, which has no bearing on the case whatsoever.”
Nardi, meanwhile, said his reputation has been tarnished unfairly because of a crime he did not commit.
“Not guilty,” he said when asked what he would plead. “I didn’t do any of these things. If anything, she’s the one (who is guilty) of false reporting.”
“We haven’t seen anything that’s contradicting what (the alleged victim) is saying. The evidence that we have and the investigation that we’ve done for the victim shows that we’re right on track with the investigation.”
Detective Ian MacAyeal
Aspen Police Department