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Press Release

Professional Rock Climber Sentenced to Life in Prison for Sexual Assaults in Yosemite National Park

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Charles Barrett, 40, was sentenced today to life in prison for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact that occurred during a weekend in Yosemite National Park, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

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

“We are grateful for the tireless work of the National Park Service investigative team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to justice,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior. It makes Yosemite a safer place for the climbing community, park visitors and our employees.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in August 2016, the victim went to Yosemite for a weekend of hiking, and Barrett, who was living and working for a private business in the park, sexually assaulted her three times. During trial, three other women testified that Barrett also sexually assaulted them. These assaults were not charged because they were outside federal jurisdiction but were admitted at trial as relevant to the charged assaults.

According to court documents, in 2017, seven years after he assaulted one of the victims who testified at trial, Barrett purposely climbed at a rock-climbing gym where the victim attended. She then disclosed Barrett’s assault on her to the gym owner in the interest of protecting other women at the gym. Barrett responded by harassing and threatening her for several years. In August 2022, he was convicted for criminal threats he made in January 2022.

While in custody on the present case, Barrett made hundreds of phone calls. On these calls, he showed no remorse or regret. Instead, he threatened to use violence and vindictive lawsuits against the victims, claiming that they designed a conspiracy to ruin his life

This case was the product of an investigation by the National Park Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael G. Tierney and Arin C. Heinz prosecuted the case.

Updated June 4, 2024

Violent Crime