King balks at plea deal

EVANSTON — A former employee of the Wyoming State Hospital appeared in Third District Court on Tuesday, Feb. 27, facing charges of three counts of second-degree sexual assault of a patient. Christopher S. King, a former CNA at the State Hospital, is alleged to have engaged in sexual acts with a female patient on hospital grounds multiple times over a several-month period in 2016. 

The case was initially reported to the Evanston Police Department in November 2016, and during the subsequent investigation the alleged victim stated she and King had engaged in sexual acts “more than 20 times” while he was charged with her care in his role as a CNA. 

The patient in this case is a woman in her 30s who was involuntarily placed at Wyoming State Hospital and was under continuous one-to-one observation for her protection due to concerns that she might harm herself. The constant observation included when the patient was sleeping, showering and dressing, and King was often the staff member assigned to provide that observation. 

King’s court appearance on Tuesday was initially to have been a pre-trial conference; however, Judge Joseph Bluemel said the court had received a motion to vacate the pre-trial conference with the understanding that a plea agreement had been reached between King and the Uinta County Attorney’s Office. 

Plans again changed when King appeared in court and defender Kent Brown said the plea agreement would not be accepted by his client.

“This has been a tremendously difficult decision for Mr. King,” said Brown, “but he does not feel he can accept the agreement.” 

Although the alleged victim’s family had traveled to Evanston to be present in the courtroom for the change of plea, Bluemel and Deputy County Attorney Amanda Kirby acknowledged there was nothing the State could do about King changing his mind, and a new trial date was set.

A new pre-trial conference date was set for May 24, with a four-day trial scheduled to begin on June 26.

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