A Casper man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges alleging he sexually assaulted two women, one of whom was a minor at the time.
Jeffrey L. Bryden entered his pleas in Natrona County District Court to felony charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor and incest. Combined, the charges carry a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Bryden is related to one of the two alleged victims in the case.
In court Tuesday, Bryden spoke only to tell Judge Thomas Sullins that he could understand the proceedings and to enter his pleas.
Prosecutors allege that the offenses took place more than 10 years ago. Both of the women are now adults. One of the women was well under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged assault, and therefore legally unable to consent.
Victims of sexual assault frequently do not report their assailants, according to statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Victims often fear retaliation or that law enforcement will not effectively help them, among other reasons cited by the network.
The first woman reported the allegations to law enforcement after making an audio recording of a phone conversation with Bryden in which he made statements that the woman interpreted as admissions of sexual abuse, according to court documents.
The two women told investigators that Bryden touched their genitals without their consent.
After the women filed reports with police, one of the women participated in a sting operation. Law enforcement listened in on the conversation, and heard Bryden say, in reference to the alleged assault: “I just know I would never do anything to hurt you, but I did,” according to court documents.
When he was interviewed by police, Bryden said he had massaged at least one of the women, but denied making sexual contact with her.
Bryden remains free on a $5,000 surety bond. His trial is scheduled for early March.