William Karelis, 72, in December pleaded not guilty to sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and was set for a seven-day trial starting Sept. 21.
But at a remote motions hearing Tuesday, Karelis’ attorney Paul McCormick asked Boulder District Judge Bruce Langer that the trial be delayed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. McCormick said some witnesses have said they are “very, very worried about their health and testifying in September.”
“What we want to have is a trial that is set out far enough where there is a reasonable likelihood that, it’s not going to be over, but that the juror and witness concerns are significantly abated,” McCormick said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Laura Kinde said the victim has objected to a continuance, but said that the Boulder District Attorney’s office would be “amenable” to a delay given the concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Langer said he and Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill, who will oversee the trial, were “reluctant” to delay the trial. Langer said his impression was that the Colorado Supreme Court would not be extending its order halting jury trials up until August.
“I’m frankly torn, because I have people who are screaming for their trials, and people who want to continue their trials,” Langer said.
But Langer said that since prosecutors were not objecting to a continuance, he would grant it.
“If the people don’t object and Mr. Karelis is willing to waive speedy trial, then I will grant it,” Langer said.
Karelis, who is out on bond and appeared remotely, did waive his speedy trial rights to accommodate a new trial date, and Langer set a new seven-day trial starting March 1.
According to an affidavit, Karelis met the girl in the 1990s when she was about 8 through Shambhala, when Karelis was assigned to her as her meditation instructor.
The girl, who was living in Denver at the time, spent time getting to know Karelis and told police in the first few years she spent a lot of one-on-one meditation time with him.
According to the affidavit, things began to escalate in 2000 when the girl was about 13, and she began taking the bus with her parents’ permission to spend weekends at Karelis’ Boulder house for teachings.
The girl would sleep in a downstairs room at Karelis’ home, but told police Karelis would come into her room after his wife fell asleep and would perform oral sex on her.
The girl told police this happened 10 times over about 18 months.
Investigators did not become aware of the case until August 2018, when the named victim — now in her 30s — told a friend about the incident and the friend reported it to Boulder police.
Karelis resigned from Shambhala in 2009. When he was arrested in February, Shambhala’s board released a statement noting the organization had conducted two “Care and Conduct complaint procedures” in 2002 and 2008, initiated by women who alleged Karelis had behaved inappropriately toward them.
His teaching and meditation instructor credentials were suspended in 2004 and revoked in 2008 after he failed to comply with the Care and Conduct procedure, according to the statement.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .