Professional rock climber sentenced to life in prison for sexual assaults at Yosemite National Park

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A professional rock climber has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of repeatedly sexually assaulting a woman during her weekend trip to Yosemite National Park in 2016, prosecutors said Tuesday. 

Charles Barrett, who was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact, was sentenced this week after a trial revealed multiple victims of abuse. 

A welcome sign at the Yosemite National Park

A welcome sign is seen at Yosemite National Park in California on Dec. 13, 2023. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Barrett was said to be living and working for a private business in the park at the time. 

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“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence,” U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a statement. 

“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.”

Charles Barrett mugshot

Charles Barrett, 40, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday. (Mono County Sheriff’s Office)

According to a report from The Sacramento Bee, Barrett was found guilty in February of repeatedly raping a 19-year-old woman on multiple occasions in the park during August 2016. According to court documents, he “aggressively” kissed the woman despite her attempts to stop him and strangled her before sexually assaulting her. 

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Over the next two days, he assaulted the victim two more times. 

During the trial, three other women testified that Barrett sexually assaulted them. Prosecutors said those assaults could not be charged because “they were outside federal jurisdiction.” 

According to court documents, one of the victims who testified said that seven years after she was assaulted, Barrett showed up to a rock climbing gym where she trained in 2017, and he was later removed after she informed the facility’s owner. 

The face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The setting sun casts light and shadow across the face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on Aug. 4, 2021. (Mark Hume/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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He was convicted in August 2022 for making criminal threats in retaliation for this incident, which prosecutors said went on for several years.

According to The New York Times, attorneys for Barrett said they plan to appeal the sentencing, which they called “excessive.” 

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