Judge: Closed hearing, new charges for Jessica Ridgeway suspect

P. SOLOMON BANDA Updated: December 12, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 12, 2012

GOLDEN — A teen accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old Colorado girl now faces an additional sexual assault charge.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they've charged 17-year-old Austin Sigg with using physical force and threats to sexually assault 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. They've also tweaked the language of charges previously filed in Jessica's disappearance and slaying in October. She was abducted as she walked to school in the Denver suburb of Westminster.

Sigg is also accused of attacking a 22-year-old woman in Jessica's neighborhood in May. She escaped.

The judge in the case said Wednesday he would bar the public and the media from a preliminary hearing for Sigg, saying he wanted to avoid influencing any potential jurors if Sigg's case goes to trial.

Sigg, who turns 18 next month, was charged as an adult. The original charges included four counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of sexual assault on a child and robbery in Jessica's abduction and slaying.

He was also charged with attempted murder, attempted sexual assault and attempted second-degree kidnapping in the attack on the runner and with six counts of crime of violence.

If convicted as an adult, Sigg faces up to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Prosecutors said he confessed to kidnapping and killing Jessica and attacking the jogger. It's not clear if he has made any comment on the charge of sexually assaulting the girl.

The 22-year-old woman said she was running in a Westminster park when a man grabbed her from behind and placed a rag with a chemical smell over her mouth.

Police arrested Sigg on Oct. 23. His mother told The Associated Press she called police and her son turned himself in.

The preliminary hearing, where the judge will decide if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial, is scheduled for Feb. 22.

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