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Professional Rock Climber Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Yosemite, CA – A professional rock climber gets life in prison after being sentenced for sexual assaults in Yosemite National Park.

Today, 40-year-old Charles Barrett was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact for attacks that occurred during a weekend in Yosemite National Park.

“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. 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. This case is a testament to the courage of the victims who reported these crimes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute violent crimes in national parks like Yosemite.”

Court documents and evidence showed that in August 2016, while working for a private business in the park, Barrett sexually assaulted the victim, who was on a weekend hiking trip to Yosemite, three times. During the trial, three other women testified that Barrett had assaulted them too, but because their cases were outside federal jurisdiction, he was not charged. Their testimony was allowed at trial due to its relevance to the charged assaults.

Talbert added that seven years after Barrett assaulted one of the victims who testified at trial, he purposely went to a rock-climbing gym where the victim attended. She then told the gym owner about Barrett’s assault to protect other women at the gym. Court documents show that Barrett responded by harassing and threatening her for several years.

Then, in August 2022, he was convicted for criminal threats he made in January 2022,” according to court documents. While in custody in the present case, prosecutors say Barrett made hundreds of phone calls threatening to use violence and vindictive lawsuits against the victims, claiming that they designed a conspiracy to ruin his life and showing no remorse or regret.

“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,” stated Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon.