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DISH Network subcontractor facing charges for allegedly bear hugging customer

Posted at 8:48 AM, Apr 19, 2019

ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. -- A subcontractor for DISH Network is facing felony charges for his conduct with an elderly woman in Elbert County. That woman, Karen Loest, says she was assaulted.

In early April, DISH Network sent Smart Tech employee David Novinski to Loest's home for repair work. Loest says everything was fine with Novinski’s visit until it was time for him to leave.

“I walked over to see him out, and he proceeded to turn and put me in a bear hug,” Loest told KDVR.

This 70-year-old former Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputy said she was terrified.

“At that point, I didn’t know whether I was going to be raped … thrown down on the floor,” she said. “He has me pinned -- my arms and chest -- and it hurt.”

Loest told KDVR she pushed Novinski away and told him to leave. However, she said Novinski waited awhile and apologized before leaving.

Novinski was arrested by Elbert County Sheriff’s deputies and booked into the Elbert County Jail on April 7. He is currently out of jail and faces charges of first-degree criminal trespass and negligent bodily injury to an at-risk person, according to court documents.

“Frankly, [this is] one of the strangest cases I’ve ever seen,” said Novinski’s defense attorney, Mike McCullough, of the Reisch Law Firm. “Upon leaving, he gave her a three-second hug and then he left.”

McCullough says his client is someone who generally gives hugs. He also says that when Loest first called Novinski’s boss to complain, she never said she was injured.

“Now, [Novinski is] unemployed, and in my view, because somebody didn’t take the necessary steps to complete an investigation on this,” McCullough said.

Loest says she’s physically OK now, but suffers emotionally and has been concerned for her safety.

“[Novinski] scared me,” she said. “I didn’t sleep for two or three days after that and I’m still not sleeping well. He knows where I live.”

McCullough says he is prepared to fight the felony charges on behalf of Novinski.

“I can’t believe that George Brauchler, who is the elected DA in the 18th Judicial District, wants to prosecute people [who] give people a hug,” McCullough said.

A protective order has been issued ordering Novinski to stay away from Loest.

Experts say the alleged crime rises to the level of a felony due to Loest’s age. The next court date for the case is for appearance of counsel on May 29, according to Brauchler’s office.

DISH Network sent this statement to KDVR:

"We take the safety and security of our community very seriously. We are investigating the allegations regarding this individual who is an employee of an independent third party and not of DISH. This individual is no longer assigned to any DISH jobs. We remain in contact with the independent third party contractor and our customer.” – John Hall, DISH Corporate Communications