Fort Collins man who fled country found guilty in 2002 child sex assault case

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Editor’s note: This story includes references to sexual assault of children. Resources are available in the video above and at the bottom of this story.

A Fort Collins man was found guilty Tuesday of sexually assaulting a close friend’s child more than two decades ago. 

James Bachmann, 57, was found guilty of five charges: 

  • Sexual assault on a child under the age of 15 while in a position of trust, a Class 3 felony;
  • Sexual assault on a child in a position of trust in a pattern of abuse, a Class 3 felony;
  • Sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 3 felony; 
  • Possession of sexually exploitative material of a child, a Class 1 misdemeanor;
  • Third-degree sexual assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. 

Bachmann was initially arrested in July 2002, but shortly before his first scheduled trial in spring 2004 he fled to Switzerland. Because of his dual citizenship, he could not be extradited from Switzerland back to the U.S., Deputy District Attorney Renee Doak said during closing statements Monday.

An international warrant was filed for his arrest, and in 2019 Bachmann was arrested in Qatar and extradited to Larimer County.

James Bachmann

The victim — who is now in his 30s — told his parents back in 2002 that Bachmann inappropriately touched him during sleepovers at Bachmann’s house when Bachmann thought he was asleep, Deputy District Attorney Luke Birky told the jury during opening statements at the start of the trial last week.

In the jury’s ruling, Bachmann was convicted of having inappropriate sexual contact with the child multiple times over three years, while the child was in seventh through ninth grades. He was also found guilty of taking and possessing a sexually exploitative photo of the child while he slept.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Juan Villaseñor ordered a presentence investigation, sexually violent predator assessment and offense-specific evaluation to aid in determining an appropriate sentence for Bachmann. 

Bachmann remains in the Larimer County Jail without bond. His sentencing is scheduled for July 16. 

More:Larimer County: April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here’s how you can help

If you think a child is being harmed

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization, lists tips for what to do if you suspect a child is being harmed.

1. Recognize the signs

The signs of abuse aren’t necessarily obvious, but they include:

  • Behavioral signs: Shrinking away from physical contact, thumb sucking or other regressive behaviors, changing hygiene routines, engaging in age-inappropriate sexual behaviors, or having sleep disturbances or nightmares
  • Verbal cues: Using words or phrases that are “too adult” for their age, unexplained silence or suddenly being less talkative
  • Physical signs: Bruising or swelling near the genital area, blood on sheets or undergarments or broken bones

2. Talk to the child

  • Pick your time and place carefully and find a place the child feels comfortable. Be aware of your tone. Try to make the conversation more casual and be non-threatening.
  • Talk to the child directly. Ask questions that use the child’s own vocabulary but are a little vague. For example, “Has someone been touching you?” In this context “touching” can mean different things, but it is likely a word the child is familiar with. The child can respond with questions or comments to help you better gauge the situation like, “No one touches me except my mom at bath time,” or “You mean like the way my cousin touches me sometimes?” Understand that sexual abuse can feel good to the child, so asking if someone is “hurting” them may not bring out the information that you are looking for.
  • Listen and follow up, but avoid judgment and blame. 
  • Reassure the child, and make sure they know they’re not in trouble.
  • Be patient. Remember this conversation may be very frightening for the child. Many perpetrators make threats about what will happen if someone finds out about the abuse. 

3. Report it

  • Reporting a crime like sexual abuse might not be easy, and it can be emotionally draining.
  • Keep in mind that reporting abuse gives you the chance to protect someone who can’t protect themselves. 
  • Before you report, tell the child that you’re going to talk to someone who can help. Be clear that you are not asking their permission.

Learn more at www.rainn.org.

Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at sswanson@coloradoan.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.