Former Keystone bouncer’s accuser testifies in groping trial
The accuser in an attempted sexual assault trial took the stand Tuesday, fighting back tears as she testified before more than two dozen people assembled in a courtroom at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge.
During her testimony, the woman said the defendant, 27-year-old Jacob Keller Bens, groped her in her sleep after the two had gone to her bed to watch TV. The woman said she clearly told Bens, whom she had invited home from a bar, that she didn’t want to have sex. She testified that she did not consent to the groping.
The woman ran from her house after waking up to find Bens’ hands under her clothes. She didn’t return until he left and later texted him saying “you shouldn’t fondle … girls if they’re passed out,” according to phone records presented Tuesday.
Bens replied, “You’re absolutely right” and apologized several times. He said he didn’t have sex with her and denied penetrating her with his fingers.
The woman had met Bens before but started talking to him while he was working the door at the Snake River Saloon in Keystone on the night of Aug. 5, 2017. The two eventually started dancing, kissing and hugging and later went to the woman’s apartment.
The woman, who testified that she had roughly six drinks that night, said she remembered watching TV in her bed with Bens before feeling sick and going to the bathroom for about 15 minutes.
When the woman returned to bed, she told Bens to stop rubbing her back because that might make her more nauseous. When she awoke, he had one hand on her breast and one in her vaginal area. Both were under her clothes, she said.
“For the first two days after I think I was still in shock,” the woman testified. “I just thought it was something crappy that happened and I’d get over it.”
Instead, she said, the incident left her anxious and contemplating self-harm. When she said that to Bens in additional messages, he continued to apologize for “being fidgety and groping” the woman. He said he had used “coke” for the first time in a while and believed it made him act differently.
Bens now stands accused of attempted sexual assault, a class-five felony, as well as unlawful sexual contact and use of a controlled substance, both misdemeanors.
The defense used a light touch during cross-examination and did not pick away at major elements of the woman’s story. Many facts of the case aren’t in dispute, but Bens’ attorneys have argued that there was nothing illegal about the encounter and that Bens had implied consent.
During testimony Wednesday, as Summit County sheriff’s deputies and other investigators took the stand, the defense further developed its argument that the case had not been adequately investigated and lay dormant from the woman’s initial report until Bens’ phone records emerged.
After the woman made her report, law enforcement didn’t follow up at the bar, speak to employees there or seek out witnesses who could attest to the woman’s behavior before the incident, according to testimony.
After the prosecution rested in the mid-afternoon, the defense called a bartender who had been working on the night in question as its first witness. She said she only remembered serving Bens and the woman one drink apiece and recalled nothing about their interactions that raised concern.
The defense said it plans to call two to three more witnesses Wednesday. Bens said he plans to testify but won’t finalize his decision until the morning.
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