New York City couple accused of sexually assaulting woman make first court appearance
A New York City couple charged with sexually assaulting a woman at their Park City hotel during the Sundance Film Festival made their first appearance in Summit County’s 3rd District Court on Monday.
Anne M. Hardcastle and Michael Taylor are each facing one count of object rape, a first-degree felony, and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. Hardcastle, who is 27 years old, also faces an additional felony charge of forcible sodomy. A first-degree felony, the most serious charge, carries a potential sentence of five years to life in prison upon conviction.
Hardcastle and Taylor, who is 45 years old, appeared in 3rd District Court before Judge Paige Petersen on Monday. They each retained an attorney from the Salt Lake area.
Tara Isaacson, who has been hired to represent Hardcastle, said she has entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. She said Hardcastle denies the allegations that have been leveled against her and “will vigorously and aggressively defend her in court.”
Petersen set a preliminary hearing for Taylor on Nov. 28 and Hardcastle on Dec. 12. At the hearing, evidence and testimony will be presented and the judge could then decide whether to bind the case over for trial.
Arrest warrants were issued for the couple on Sept. 9, according to Summit County prosecutor Joy Natale. She said they were held in jail without bail in New York City until they waived extradition. Hardcastle and Taylor were released from the Summit County Jail on Sept. 22 after they each posted a $20,000 cash-only bail. As a condition of release, both will be required to forfeit their passports to their attorneys, Natale said.
On Jan. 26, a Park City police officer was dispatched to Park City Hospital to meet with the alleged sexual assault victim, described as a Utah woman in her early 20s. According to court documents, the woman appeared to be under the influence of drugs when she arrived at the hospital. She was also reportedly covered in scratches, bruises, and suction and bite marks.
The victim told the police officer she went to a Main Street bar the night before to listen to a band with some friends, documents state. She claimed Hardcastle and Taylor approached her while she was at the bar and bought a round of tequila shots before they invited her to an after-party, documents state.
On the way to the party, the couple and the victim stopped at the couple’s Park City hotel, documents state. The victim alleges Hardcastle and Taylor then gave her more alcohol and a drug she presumed to be ecstasy when they were in the hotel room.
In the court filing, the victim said the couple began suggesting they all have sex, but then claimed “everything went black” shortly after she had texted a friend for a ride. She said she woke up the next morning in bed with Hardcastle and ordered an Uber driver to pick her up.
After the alleged incident, the woman claims Hardcastle began communicating with her on Instagram. When the victim asked what caused her to have bruises and scratches on her body, Hardcastle allegedly replied, “You said you liked it rough and so I gave you what you wanted.”
Natale said the social media messages will be a significant component of the prosecution’s case against the couple. She said the victim cooperated with police for more than six months to gather evidence against Hardcastle and Taylor.
“That will obviously be an important part of the case because of the statements she (Hardcastle) made about what went on that night,” Natale said.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.