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Alleged Sex Assaults On Ski Slopes Shakes Small Mountain Community

SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4) - The arrest of a 15-year-old boy on charges that he attempted to sexually assault two girls on a ski slope has shocked a small community near Monarch Mountain.

The separate incidents happened over two weeks on the ski slopes at Monarch, which is located between Pueblo and Gunnison.

"It just took everybody by surprise," Undersheriff John Spezze of the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department said. "It kind of shook the community because we're a small community and we get a lot of outside visitors. But ski areas are safe places."

The sheriff's office said the suspect boarded a chairlift with each teenage girl, who was skiing alone. Once on the run, he would force them into the woods and try to assault them, the office said.

Investigators said that while the victim in first incident was credible, she didn't have much information about the suspect. When it happened again on New Year's Day, the suspect pulled out a gun and fired it in the air to coerce the victim. Both fled unharmed.

Spezze said the alleged crime -- and where it happened -- is nearly unheard of.

"At the time, it took us by surprise because it's just very strange for a ski resort. They're very safe places. We just don't see that," he said.

Spezze said the ski area's cooperation was instrumental.

"It's pretty limited surveillance up there, but through other information systems, we were able to develop quite a bit of information off of that," he said.

The boy, whose name hasn't been released, is facing a half-dozen felony charges. He was arrested in Monument by El Paso County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday.

He is being held in the Pueblo Youth Center and will be in court in Chaffee County on Thursday.

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