DRIGGS — A 31-year-old St. Anthony man has been arrested in relation to a two-year-old rape case in Teton County.
Chet K. Neilson is charged for the rape and battery of a 26-year-old woman in the Victor City Park on Aug. 4, 2017, a Teton County Sheriff’s Office news release said. He was arraigned in Teton County Court on Friday with bail set at $250,000. He is currently being held at the Madison County Jail and should he post bond, Neilson will be required to wear an ankle tracking devise.
The two-year rape investigation was led by Detective Sgt. Andrew Foster of the Teton County Sheriff’s Office. Teton County Sheriff Tony Liford said there was not a day that didn’t go by in which Foster did not think about or work on that investigation.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Detective Foster,” said Liford. “He’s done an outstanding job along with all the guys who assisted. He gets all the credit for this.”
A criminal complaint filed by Teton County Prosecuting Attorney Billie Siddoway alleges the victim resisted the rape, but she was overcome by force or violence. The complaint also alleges that Neilson inflicted great bodily injury to the victim.
On Aug. 4, 2017, the victim returned to the Victor City Park to retrieve her bicycle when she was attacked from behind, forced to the ground, and raped by an assailant unknown to her.
According to the news release, earlier this month, Foster received an investigative lead pointing to Neilson. Liford would not release the specifics of that lead at this time.
With the assistance of the Idaho State Police and Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Foster obtained a discarded DNA sample from Neilson. On Aug. 22 the Idaho State Police Forensic Laboratory confirmed that the DNA profile from Neilson matched the profile of a DNA sample obtained following the rape.
Liford said when Foster obtained the DNA sample from Neilson, he told Foster to drive the sample to the Boise lab personally. Foster did and the test was fast tracked.
A warrant was then issued for Neilson’s arrest.
Neilson worked at a local company in Teton County. He was arrested by Deputy Andrew Sewell just north of Driggs last Friday morning while heading to work, said Sheriff Liford.
His court appointed defense attorney is Forrest Fischer with Moulton Law Firm in Driggs. Neilson is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Teton County Courthouse. A no contact order was issued for the victim against Neilson.
The charge of felony rape carries a potential penalty of life in prison and a fine up to $50,000. The charge of felony battery carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison with a fine up to $50,000.
The 2017 incident rippled through Teton Valley. The Knotty Pine Supper Club in Victor hosted a fundraiser concert for Family Safety Network after the incident, supporting the nonprofit organization in its pursuit to serve victims of sexual and domestic violence.
This year, Family Safety Network launched, “Don’t Stand By,” at the annual free music concert series at Victor City Park, a program that encourages community members to not stand by when they see someone who looks like they might need help.