Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trial for Royal Gorge Academy official begins Monday

August 25, 2007

Vic Vela
The Daily Record

A week-long trial is scheduled to being Monday for the Royal Gorge Academy co-founder who faces allegations that he assaulted several teenagers who once attended the private boarding school.

Randall Hinton, 32, is set to defend himself against seven counts of third-degree assault and two counts of false imprisonment. All charges Hinton faces are misdemeanors that carry potential jail time, if convicted.

The trial is the culmination of an investigation that began in January and was carried out by the Cañon City Police Department.

According to police records, Hinton allegedly was abusive toward as many as seven different students. Five of the alleged victims are scheduled to testify next week.

While Hinton’s attorney does not dispute some physical action being taken by Hinton, he contends his client’s conduct was appropriate given the circumstances.

“There’s no question he used restraint on some of the children,” said Cañon City attorney Michael Gillick. “But, some of the allegations are just plain lies.”

Gillick said many of the students who are sent to the school are there because of “manipulation, drugs, sex and lies.”

“None of these kids were there for being angels in heaven,” he said. “The charges are an overreaction on the part of the police department.”

The Fremont County District Attorney’s Office was reached, but declined to comment for this story.

Hinton helped to open the boarding school in the spring of 2006. The school houses boys and girls, ages 13-17, who have been sent to the school for various reasons, including behavioral and academic problems.

Because there are no felony charges involved, the matter will be heard in Fremont County Court. Judge Norman Cooling will preside during the trial.

The trial begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday with selection of a six-person jury. Opening arguments may commence shortly thereafter.