Couple Charged with Rape, Sodomy, Other Sex Crimes after Utah Sundance Film Festival

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On September 21 a New York couple was extradited to Utah to face felony criminal charges including object rape, forcible sodomy, and other sex crimes arising from an alleged incident that prosecutors say occurred during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City in January.  The couple was not arrested at Sundance as no charges were filed until this September, more than half a year after the festival and alleged crime occurred.

Pair Charged with Felony Sex Crimes Following Sundance Film Fest in Park City, UT

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The Sundance Film Festival is a major event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Utah every year.  While most festival-goers leave with fond memories, attendees are occasionally arrested and charged with crimes such as drug possession, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct.

Earlier this September, a New York couple was charged with several sex offenses stemming from a crime that allegedly took place at Sundance 2016.  Both Michael Taylor, 45, and Anne Hardcastle, 27, were extradited from New York City to Utah, where the crimes allegedly occurred.  The charges against Taylor and Hardcastle include forcible sexual abuse and object rape, while Hardcastle is also being charged with forcible sodomy.

Prosecutors assert that Hardcastle and Taylor forced a female festival attendee into a non-consensual “threesome,” during which the victim was allegedly given ecstasy and alcohol before passing out, later awakening to find her body marked with scratches, bites, and bruises.  The victim also reported experiencing vaginal pain.

The case came to the attention of criminal investigators after Hardcastle communicated with the victim through Instagram, a popular app that allows users to share and edit photos, several hours after the alleged offense occurred.  Hardcastle reportedly stated, “You said you liked it rough and so I gave you what you wanted,” which led detectives to initiate an investigation, throughout which the couple’s accuser was directed to keep in communication with Hardcastle in order to obtain more information.

The investigation culminated in the couple’s arrest at their apartment in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood on September 9.  The arrest was conducted by the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force (NY/NJ RFTF), which is part of the U.S. Marshals, a federal agency whose role is to apprehend fugitives.

Following the arrest, Hardcastle and Taylor were extradited from Manhattan Criminal Court to be charged in Summit County District Court.  Extradition is a process by which a criminal suspect is transported from their current location to the location that has jurisdiction, or legal authority, over the case.  Utah’s district courts have jurisdiction over felony charges and the most serious types of misdemeanors, while lesser misdemeanor charges are handled by Utah’s justice courts.

Utah Penalties for Forcible Sodomy, Sexual Abuse, and Object Rape

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Forcible sodomy, forcible sexual abuse, and object rape are all felony charges under the corresponding statutes in Utah’s criminal code.  Felonies are the most serious types of crimes, such as aggravated assault and manslaughter, and can therefore lead to many years in prison.  This is particularly true of first degree felonies, which are Utah’s most serious class of non-capital felony.  Felony offenses in Utah may also be categorized as second degree or third degree felonies.

The charges against Taylor and Hardcastle – and the penalties for defendants who are charged with these crimes – are summarized below.

  • Forcible Sexual Abuse  
    • Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-404
    • Classification – Second degree felony, first degree felony
    • Description – Non-consensual contact with the breasts, anus, buttocks, or genitals of another person for the purpose of inflicting pain or distress, or to gratify a sexual desire, where the victim is at least 14 years old.
    • Sentence – 1 to 15 years, 6 years to life, 10 years to life, 15 years to life
    • Fine – Up to $10,000
  • Forcible Sodomy  
    • Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-403
    • Classification – First degree felony
    • Description – Non-consensual contact between one person’s mouth or anus and another person’s genitals, where the victim is at least 14 years old.
    • Sentence – 5 years to life, 6 years to life, 10 years to life, 15 years to life
    • Fine – Up to $10,000
  • Object Rape  
    • Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-402.2
    • Classification – First degree felony
    • Description – Non-consensual penetration of an orifice using a foreign object, where the victim is at least 14 years old.
    • Sentence – 5 years to life, 6 years to life, 10 years to life, 15 years to life
    • Fine – Up to $10,000

Contact a Summit County Defense Lawyer if You Were Charged with Sex Crimes

If you or one of your family members was recently arrested at a film festival or music festival in Utah, or has been accused of committing a sex crime, it is in your best interests to immediately contact a knowledgeable Park City sex crimes attorney like Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC.  Darwin has worked on thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases during more than 16 years practicing criminal law, and represents defendants throughout the state of Utah.  To set up a free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.