A former Shambhala teacher accused of sexually assaulting a girl he was mentoring is set for trial in 2020.
William Karelis, 72, on Friday in Boulder District Court pleaded not guilty to sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and was set for a seven-day trial starting June 15, according to court records.
Karelis, who is free on $10,000 bond, also is set for motions hearings on Feb. 11 and April 1.
According to an affidavit, Karelis met the girl in the 1990s when she was about 8 through Shambhala, when Karelis was assigned to her as her meditation instructor.
The girl, who was living in Denver at the time, spent time getting to know Karelis and told police in the first few years she spent a lot of one-on-one meditation time with him.
According to the affidavit, things began to escalate in 2000 when the girl was about 13, and she began taking the bus with her parents’ permission to spend weekends at Karelis’ Boulder house for teachings.
The girl would sleep in a downstairs room at Karelis’ home, but told police Karelis would come into her room after his wife fell asleep and would perform oral sex on her.
The girl told police this happened 10 times over about 18 months.
Investigators did not become aware of the case until August 2018, when the named victim — now in her 30s — told a friend about the incident and the friend reported it to Boulder police.
Karelis resigned from Shambhala in 2009. When he was arrested in February, Shambhala’s board released a statement noting the organization had conducted two “Care and Conduct complaint procedures” in 2002 and 2008, initiated by women who alleged Karelis had behaved inappropriately toward them.
His teaching and meditation instructor credentials were suspended in 2004 and revoked in 2008 after he failed to comply with the Care and Conduct procedure, according to the statement.