Natrona County Man Charged With Sexual Assault of Teen
A man accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl last fall pleaded not guilty to five felony charges during his arraignment hearing Wednesday morning.
Paul Allen Miller is charged with sexual exploitation of children, first-degree sexual assault, strangulation of a household member and two counts of aggravated assault. Because the aggravated assault charges allege that Miller would be a habitual criminal if convicted, he could face 20-167 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Charging papers say that on Sept. 15, an investigator with the Natrona County Sheriff's Office was assigned to investigate an alleged sexual assault which also involved strangulation.
The day prior, the victim's mother had received a phone call from the alleged victim in which the victim claimed she had been physically assaulted by Miller. During the phone call, the mother heard the victim yell, "Stay away from me!" The phone call disconnected, and the mother told law enforcement that the victim and Miller were in the area of Pathfinder Reservoir.
Despite a search, officers did not find either the victim or Miller in the Pathfinder area.
The alleged victim, who was born in 2000, later told the investigator that she and Miller had been dating for roughly five months. On Sept 14, Miller had asked her to go hunting with him, but the victim was skeptical about joining Miller because he had previously made death threats toward her, according to the affidavit.
The pair went out to Pathfinder in Miller's truck. Once there, they parked and had a discussion while drinking alcohol. The victim said she was in the passenger seat while Miller was outside the truck "messing with the gun." She then told Miller something that made him "very angry."
Miller allegedly got into the truck, crawled across the center console and choked the victim until she lost consciousness.
When the victim woke up, she got out of the truck and yelled at Miller to take her home. Miller drove and, as they reached the intersection of Bishop Points and Pathfinder Road, the victim again got out of the truck because she was unnerved by Miller's alleged erratic driving.
While she was outside the truck, the victim called her mother. During that telephone call, Miller allegedly tried to run the victim over with his truck.
The victim told the investigator that she was having a panic attack, and Miller exited the truck. He allegedly approached the victim, grabbed her in a bear hug and "squeezed the life" out of her, making it difficult for her to breathe.
Miller allegedly made the victim get back into the truck, then drove her to Casper. After they stopped at a convenience store at 15th and McKinley, the victim assumed Miller would take her home. However, Miller allegedly continued to drive her around Casper before parking in the area of the Casper Municipal Golf Course and South Mitchell Street.
The victim's next memory, she told the investigator, was waking up to Miller performing oral sex on her and pulling up her pants. A person walked by the vehicle, and Miller reportedly told the victim to be quiet.
The victim said Miller supplied alcohol and both of them had been drinking while at Pathfinder, but the drinking stopped after Miller strangled the victim.
On Sept. 20, the investigator met Miller at his scheduled probation and parole meeting. Miller allegedly admitted having a sexual relationship with the victim.
Of the trip to Pathfinder, Miller said the purpose was to "hang out," not to hunt, as he was prohibited from possessing firearms due to previous felony convictions. Miller also denied having consumed alcohol while at Pathfinder.
Miller denied any sexual assault, but claimed he and the victim argued. He said the only time he physically touched the victim was when he told her to get out of his truck and pushed her.
Miller said that while parked near the golf course, he and the victim performed oral sex on each other. He claimed that the victim initiated the sexual contact.
Miller also denied touching the victim's neck, but said he might have "bumped" her neck while pushing her out of the truck.
Charging information filed by the Natrona County District Attorney's Office alleges that Miller was convicted of a 2009 robbery in Wyoming District Court in Lincoln County and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2015 in U.S. District Court.
Miller's bond was set at $100,000 cash or surety during a March 21 hearing in Natrona County Circuit Court. He remained free at the time of Wednesday's arraignment.
His arraignment hearing had been set for last week, but District Judge Daniel Forgey reluctantly agreed to continue the hearing after Miller had been called to what his attorney referred to as a "work emergency" in Rawlins.
"I'm actually kind of concerned about this. The charges are serious and this had been set since April twelfth," Forgey said after granting the continuance.
During Wednesday's arraignment with Miller present, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri said he anticipates trial in the case to last for three days.
Forgey agreed to move the trial date back from its original setting at the request of the defense, which pointed to a previously-scheduled trial that would have conflicted with the original trial date.