Aspen yoga teacher convicted of groping students
September 15, 2010
ASPEN – An Aspen yoga teacher could face three years in prison after jurors convicted him of groping two of his female students during their poses in class.
Steven Jon Roger, 49, maintained his innocence and some of his former students defended him during his trial, testifying they never saw him do anything inappropriate.
Roger was convicted Tuesday and scheduled for sentencing Oct. 26.
The trial in Pitkin County included emotional testimony from the women, who accused Roger of putting his hands down their pants, the Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News reported.
Roger testified that he did nothing inappropriate. He voice cracked when he was asked about his arrest in January 2009.
“I miss my life here,” he said.
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His attorney, Tamas Viski-Hanka, declined to comment after the verdict. In a hearing before trial, he told a judge that touching is a part of yoga instruction.
“Yoga is such that bodily contact with breasts and buttocks happens,” Viski-Hanka said at the time. “That’s the industry standard.”
Roger testified that touching students during class “meant nothing to me, only in the sense that they were taught safely and taught properly.”
Prosecutor Richard Nedlin argued that Roger took advantage of his job to grope his students.
“The opportunity was there, and he’s the one that calls the shots,” Nedlin said.