RAWLINS – Mental illness was an 80-year-old man’s reasoning behind his not guilty plea to charges related to attempted rape.

Eppie Paul Esquibel, of Rawlins, appeared before a Carbon County District Court Judge on Monday after being indicted on one count of first-degree attempted sexual assault, one count of third-degree sexual assault, and one count of false imprisonment.

If convicted, Esquibel could face up to 76 years’ maximum imprisonment.

Judge Dawnessa Snyder allowed for officials to conduct a mental evaluation of Esquibel before the trial date is set. Scheduling could take more than 90 days depending on the length of evaluation procedures.

Esquibel was arrested just after 8:20 a.m. on last Dec. 25, when a clerk inside K’s 2 gas station was forced to engage a silent panic alarm as he allegedly tried to force himself on her. The woman would struggle several times to break free from Esquibel, who attempted to forcibly submit the alleged victim against her will, according to court records.

In response to the panic alarms, which the alleged victim engaged more than once, two phone calls were made to the location – one by her boss, and later, one by dispatch. Managing to answer both times, the clerk was asked if she as OK; to which she said “no” and immediately hung up.

Upon arrival, authorities intervened before any sexual intrusion was carried out. Court records say the clerk did not suffer any physical injuries and did not require medical treatment.

There were, however, no witnesses and the camera surveillance system was down, according to a testimonial made by investigating Rawlins Police Department officer Daria Hooper during Esquibel’s Jan. 8 preliminary hearing.

Leading up to the occurrence, the woman told authorities during a subsequent interview that Esquibel was a frequent customer, who came in to get gas or coffee one to three times a week. During this span Esquibel at one point asked for the attendant’s phone number, saying he wanted to match her up with his grandson.

A couple weeks after, according to court records, Esquibel asked the clerk to provide him with revealing pictures, which she denied doing.

While in custody, Esquibel told authorities that on the day of the occurrence “he went crazy” after the woman agreed to giving him a hug, which escalated to groping. Also, Esquibel asked authorities during this interview to “throw him in the penitentiary,” and that he’s “been praying to god that he will stop his heart, so he didn’t have to go through this.”

When later asked, Esquibel denied ever having any prior sexual desire for the alleged victim. Before the interview ended, Hooper noticed that the defendant’s jean zipper was down.

Esquibel is currently out on $50,000 bond.

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