DA calls suspect sexual predator
Allegations that a registered sex offender had sex with an underage Palisade girl at Riverbend Park on Tuesday are likely the “tip of the iceberg” for an ongoing investigation involving a “predator,” District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told a judge Wednesday.
Kelsey Kolenut, 24, who is listed on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s publicly available sex-offender registry as residing at 326 Apache Drive in Grand Junction, could face multiple additional charges after his booking Tuesday at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of one count of sexual assault on a child.
A Palisade police officer was flagged down around 4 p.m. Tuesday by a man who reported people were having sex in a four-door sedan parked at the west end of the park, according to an arrest affidavit. The officer came across a naked man and a partially clothed girl.
Kolenut told the officer the girl was 18, while the officer later learned she’s 14. Kolenut said they just arrived and nothing had happened.
“He explained he had just met (girl) online but couldn’t remember what website it was,” the affidavit said.
The girl, however, said they’d had sex twice on Tuesday and approximately 10 times during the last month. Kolenut declined to be interviewed.
Kolenut is restrained from being around children under age 12 because of his prior conviction, the affidavit said.
According to court records, Kolenut registered as a sex offender after a 2005 conviction in Mesa County for sexual assault on a child.
Prosecuted as an adult for the juvenile crime, Kolenut was sentenced in 2006 to serve six years in Colorado’s Youthful Offender System, a boot-camp style alternative to adult prison.
During bond arguments Wednesday, the grandmother of Kolenut’s latest alleged victim told County Court Judge Craig Henderson that the girl is in counseling and “not doing well.”
“He’s preying on vulnerable children,” the woman said.
She also told the judge Kolenut has been “showing up at Palisade High School having lunch with children.”
District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said she wasn’t aware of any internal probe into Kolenut’s alleged presence at the Palisade campus.
“We’re going to investigate,” McGee said. “That’s unacceptable. We take that very seriously.”
Henderson on Wednesday said he would have ordered a no-bond hold if he could under Colorado law.
“We don’t have a preventative detention statute in Colorado, and this case screams out for that,” Henderson said.
Kolenut was ordered jailed in lieu of a $100,000 cash-only bond.
Aside from the victim’s home, Henderson restrained Kolenut from being at Palisade High School or around any child under the age of 18.