Timnath man accused of child sex assault cleared of all charges by jury
Source: The Coloradoan
Date: March 6, 2019
By Sady Swanson
On Monday, a jury found Lance Zabler, 48, not guilty of nine charges – three felonies and six misdemeanors – at the conclusion of a six-day trial.
Prior to the trial beginning, Judge Stephen Howard dismissed three misdemeanor charges, according to Colorado court records.
Update 8/9: Lance Zabler pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges alleging he sexually assaulted his girlfriend’s daughter.
During an arraignment Thursday, Zabler also tolled his right to a speedy trial for 60 days, which means the countdown to when a resolution in the case must be reached is temporarily paused.
A seven day trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 25.
Original: A Timnath man facing child sexual abuse charges is accused of taking baths with a child and touching her inappropriately.
Prosecutors at a preliminary hearing Monday said Lance Zabler, who was arrested in February in the case, sexually assaulted the daughter of his girlfriend. The lead investigator in the case testified, revealing more details about the case.
Timnath police officer Kimberly Betrus said the child told investigators Zabler would take baths with her and touch her inappropriately.
When interviewed by police, Zabler said he often took baths to help his joint pain and the child would sometimes try to get into the bath with him. He recalled one instance where the child and her mother were all in the bathtub together, Betrus said.
Police suspect the man’s girlfriend allowed the abuse to occur at least four times in the bathroom of their Timnath home. She also was arrested in connection with the case.
According to the Weld County coroner, Zabler’s girlfriend died March 14, 2018. Her death was ruled a suicide.
The Coloradoan is not naming the woman in order to protect the child in the case.
Betrus also testified that the files police analyzed from Zabler’s computer revealed pornography, but no child pornography and “nothing out of the ordinary.”
Zabler’s attorney argued that he should face only one charge, not four, because all of the charges are the same. But Hardouin said each charge is for a different instance of alleged abuse and there is evidence of at lease four separate instances.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Stephen Howard decided to bond on all four counts, but he said he wanted to review the evidence and retain the ability to change his ruling.
Zabler is accused of four counts of sexual assault on a child while in a position of trust, three counts of invasion of privacy for sexual gratification with a victim younger than 15, four counts of child abuse and one count of third-degree assault.
Zabler’s next appearance in Larimer County Court is scheduled for August 8 for an arraignment.
All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.
Reporter Sady Swanson covers breaking news for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter: @sadyswan.