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Pro Rock Climber Barrett Gets Life Sentence for Yosemite Sexual Assaults
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 3 weeks ago on
June 4, 2024

Well-known professional rock climber Charles Barrett, 40, received a life sentence on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, for the sexual assault of a woman at Yosemite National Park in August 2016. (GV Wire Composite)

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Well-known professional rock climber Charles Barrett received a life prison sentence in Sacramento federal court on Tuesday morning.

“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence. … This case is a testament to the courage of the victims who reported these crimes.” — U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release that Barrett, 40, was sentenced for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact that occurred during a weekend in Yosemite National Park.

“Barrett’s long history of sexual violence supports the imposition of a life sentence,” said Talbert. “He used his status as a prominent climber to assault women in the rock-climbing community, and when his victims began to tell, Barrett responded by lashing out publicly with threats and intimidation.

“This case is a testament to the courage of the victims who reported these crimes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute violent crimes in National Parks like Yosemite.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in August 2016, the victim went to Yosemite for a weekend of hiking, and Barrett, who was living and working for a private business in the park, sexually assaulted her three times.

3 Other Women Testify to Being Sexually Assaulted

At trial, three other women testified that Barrett also sexually assaulted them. These assaults were not charged because they were outside federal jurisdiction but were admitted into evidence as relevant to the charged assaults.

According to court documents, in 2017, seven years after he assaulted one of the victims who testified at trial, Barrett purposely climbed at a rock-climbing gym where the victim attended. She then disclosed Barrett’s assault on her to the gym owner in the interest of protecting other women at the gym. Barrett responded by harassing and threatening her for several years.

In August 2022, he was convicted for criminal threats he made in January 2022.

Barrett made hundreds of phone calls while in custody on the present case. On these calls, he showed no remorse or regret. Instead, he threatened to use violence and vindictive lawsuits against the victims, claiming that they designed a conspiracy to ruin his life, prosecutors said.

“We are grateful for the tireless work of the National Park Service investigative team and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to justice,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. “Today’s sentencing sends a clear message about the consequences of this criminal behavior. It makes Yosemite a safer place for the climbing community, park visitors and our employees.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the National Park Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael G. Tierney and Arin C. Heinz prosecuted the case.

Barrett’s Troubled History

The rock climber previously served prison time in Kern County following a 2005 federal indictment charging Barrett with five felonies. Among them: witness retaliation and intimidating and interfering with federal officers.

“Records show that during a 14-year period starting in 2008, at least nine criminal protective orders or restraining orders were obtained against Barrett by four women who all said they feared for their lives,” Outside Magazine reported in January.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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