Kirk B. Chapman was set to be tried Feb. 22 on a felony count of third-degree sexual assault, but last week, District Court Judge Steven Cranfill pushed the trial’s start date back to May 21.
Chapman’s court-appointed defense attorney, Bill Simpson, said all the attorneys involved had scheduling conflicts.
Chapman is accused of stopping by a woman’s home early one morning in September 2011 and sexually touching and rubbing against her. The charge alleges that Chapman — who was on-duty at the time — used his position of authority as a police officer to get the woman to submit to sexual contact. She told investigators with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation that Chapman bumped his radio while rubbing against her; an affidavit from a DCI agent says the Powell Police Department’s audio records appear to match her account. Chapman was suspended after the report was made and later resigned.
Chapman told investigators he was not at the woman’s house and denied the allegation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
A trial is expected to last three days. It had been scheduled to take place in October, but — over the objection of deputy Park County prosecutor Sam Krone — was delayed at Simpson’s request.
When Cranfill picked Feb. 22 as the new date, Krone then asked the judge to move it up to “as soon as the court’s docket allows.”
“A popular defense counsel strategy may include delaying a trial in the hopes that witnesses’ memories will fade or perhaps, after an extended period of time, witnesses may not be available or just lose interest,” Krone wrote in the October motion. One of the witnesses Krone planned to call — an associate of the woman — died in December.
In asking for the delay last year, Chapman attorney Bill Simpson said he and prosecutors were “in the process of plea negotiations” and needed more time to finalize a deal, that a second defense attorney would be joining the case and needed time to prepare and that he wanted to have an expert evaluate several issues — including the recording of the interaction Chapman had with dispatch on the morning in question.
As of Tuesday, Simpson remained Chapman’s only defense attorney. In a Jan. 9 filing, Simpson listed no experts among the witnesses he expects to call at trial.
Chapman signed a waiver of his right to a speedy trial in a November 2012 filing.
The woman filed a nearly $1 million claim with the city of Powell in September in connection with the allegations against Chapman. The claim preserves her right to file suit against the city for one year.