'Prominent Climber' Sentenced to Life for Sexually Assaulting Women in Yosemite National Park

Four women testified against Charles Barrett at his federal trial in California

<p>Mono County Sheriff

Mono County Sheriff's Office

Charles Barrett in mugshot.

Charles Barrett was a well-known professional rock climber and guidebook writer. Now, the 40-year-old sex abuse convict is set to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

Barrett was sentenced Tuesday, June 4 to life in prison for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a woman over a single weekend at Yosemite National Park in August 2016, the Eastern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office confirms.

His sentencing “sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior,” Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon said in a statement. “It makes Yosemite a safer place for the climbing community, park visitors and our employees.”

Although Barrett was sentenced for sexually abusing one woman, three others testified at his trial to additional abuse, which were outside federal jurisdiction, but which the court considered relevant to the charged case.

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

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That August 2016 weekend, Barrett – who then lived and worked for a private business at the national park – sexually assaulted the woman three times, per prosecutors.

The next year, he “purposely” went to a rock-climbing gym where another one of his victims climbed, per court documents cited by prosecutors. When the woman – who had been sexually assaulted around 2010 – told the gym owner about the assault “in the interest of protecting other women at the gym” per prosecutors, Barrett spent the next few years “harassing and threatening her.”

Barrett was convicted of making criminal threats in 2022.

And, prosecutors say, Barrett was following the same pattern this time around, noting that he placed hundreds of phone calls “while in custody on the present case” in which he “showed no remorse or regret” and instead “threatened to use violence and vindictive lawsuits against the victims, claiming that they designed a conspiracy to ruin his life.”

As of early afternoon on Wednesday, June 5, Barrett was not yet listed as an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons’s online system.

Donald Murphy of the Bureau of Prisons confirmed to PEOPLE in an email that Barrett “is not currently in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons” and that per federal prison policies, his assigned location will not be released until his arrival.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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