Decade Later, Snowmass Ex-Monastery Worker Faces New Sex Charge

By Rick Carroll
Post Independent
May 12, 2011

A former monk in training at St. Benedict's Monastery in Old Snowmass, now serving a state prison sentence, is due to make his first appearance in Pitkin County District Court on Monday to face a new charge of sexually assaulting an adolescent boy more than 10 years ago.

Local law enforcement officials close to the case offered few details Wednesday about the scheduled appearance of Wilfred Laurent Carignan, 72, who worked at the monastery from 1996 to 2001. While Carignan worked as a beekeeper at the monastery, he was not accepted into his desired profession as a monk. During his time working at the monastery, he was known as "Bill the Beekeeper."

Carignan is currently serving separate prison sentences of six years to life and eight years to life in Fremont Correction Facility in Canon City, on two felony convictions of sexual assault of a child out of Delta County, according to records from the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC).

He was arrested in California in February 2008, following the issuance of a warrant in 2003 out of Delta County, records show. Carignan had been wanted for molesting boys between the ages of 8 and 18 years old in the Hotchkiss area. The boys, according to a report published in the Delta County Independent, worked for him at the Happy Hermit, a store he owned and operated.

Carignan's prison sentence was delivered in September 2008; he is eligible for parole on Aug. 29, 2016, according to DOC records.

Meanwhile, Pitkin County District Court records show that Judge Gail Nichols signed an arrest warrant on Feb. 22 for the arrest of Carignan on one class-three felony count of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust pattern of abuse. The warrant was prepared by Bruce Benjamin, a juvenile investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

Benjamin declined comment about the case, but said it was launched last fall by the sheriff's department. DOC records show that Carignan was detained and advised of his rights concerning the Pitkin County charge on April 6, while incarcerated at the Canon City facility.

"We have six months to take him to trial from that date," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin.

The investigation by the sheriff's office spanned all down Louisiana, where the alleged victim is believed to currently reside, according to sources close to the case.

The alleged victim, now in his early 20s, gave investigators a detailed account of his sexual relationship with Carignan, after one of his parents tipped off monastery officials about the allegations. The tip came in the form of an letter placed on a windowsill inside the monastery bookstore. The letter was discovered by a monastery employee in late August, according to the source.

Carignan was hired by the alleged victim's family to tutor him at a private residence near the monastery, the source said. The boy was believed to be in sixth or seventh grade. The sexual acts occurred at the residence as well as other towns in Colorado, based on information from the source.


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