Oregon psychiatrist admits to sabotaging bike trails; "didn't like downhill mountain bikers"

October 5, 2012

A Jackson County-employed psychiatrist who the Forest Service says admitted to sabotaging mountain-biking trails in the Ashland watershed will head to court in late October after his actions allegedly injured three bikers and put others in danger.

Jackson Tyler Dempsey, 57, of Ashland, was arrested July 22 after he admitted to laying nylon cord, nails and vegetation along trails on multiple occasions because he "did not like downhill mountain bikers," according to a report from the U.S. Forest Service officer who arrested Dempsey.
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Ashland mountain biker Bill Roussel said that on July 22 he spotted a man walking on the mountain biking trails and reported him to a Forest Service officer.

The arresting officer reported that he found Dempsey near milepost 11 on Forest Service Road 2080 near Mount Ashland later that morning. He said Dempsey admitted to sabotaging trails on at least five different days in June and July.

Dempsey is employed as a psychiatrist at Jackson County Mental Health in Medford. When contacted by phone, Anne Larson, director of the Mental Health Department, said she could not comment on the case. On previous phone calls, Mental Health Department employees answering the phone said Dempsey was with patients and not available. Dempsey did not return multiple calls in July or on Friday seeking comment.

Roussel, who owns the mountain-biking shuttle service Ashland Mountain Adventures, said in July that he had seen the same man on numerous occasions walking along mountain biking trails in the watershed.

The officer reported Dempsey had a piece of nylon cord with him, which appeared identical to four other nylon cords the officer had recovered in the previous six weeks.

Dempsey was arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangerment. He is due in court Oct. 29 to face the charges.

Three mountain bikers sustained minor injuries because of hitting either the cords or vegetation that Dempsey admitted to placing across the trail, according to the report.

Roussel said that on the day of the arrest he received a minor cut on his leg after hitting a log that had been dragged onto the trail.

The Forest Service in July declined to identify Dempsey as the suspect in the trail sabotage after receiving a request from the Mail Tribune. Dempsey's arrest was public record but there were no accompanying details to positively link him to the trail case. The Forest Service also denied a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the newspaper. Dempsey was identified as the suspect Friday through newly released state court records.

Since the July arrest, Roussel hasn't found any new vandalism on trails in the watershed, according to Sue Roussel, his wife and co-owner of Ashland Mountain Adventures.

"It was a really stressful six weeks," she said Friday. "We're waiting to see what happens next."

A previous court date of Sept. 24 was postponed because Dempsey was working through mediation with the state regarding his charges, according to court records.

Source: Teresa Ristow, "County worker charged with trail sabotage, Mail Tribune, September 29, 2012.


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