Was It to Cover Up ‘Underage Party,’ Rape At Police Chief’s Home? – RedState

Was It to Cover Up ‘Underage Party,’ Rape At Police Chief’s Home? – RedState

A newspaper in a small Colorado town sought to publish a story that would have cast the local police chief in a bad light. However, most of the town’s residents did not get to see the story on the day it was published–due to the actions of an unknown thief who tried to steal every copy of the issue around the town so people would not see the story.

In this curious tale, it appears that someone did not want problematic information about the chief to be made public. Unfortunately for them, it’s going to happen anyway. The incident occurred on Friday.

Nearly all the copies of a small-town Colorado newspaper were stolen from newspaper racks on the same day the Ouray County Plaindealer published a story about charges being filed over rapes alleged to have occurred at an underage drinking party at the police chief’s house while the chief was asleep, the owner and publisher said Friday.

Mike Wiggins vowed to get to the bottom of it, posting Thursday on X, formerly Twitter: “If you hoped to silence or intimidate us, you failed miserably. We’ll find out who did this. And another press run is imminent.”

The newspaper posted the story on social media and removed its website paywall so people could read about the felony sexual assault charges filed against three men, including a relative of the police chief, for actions that allegedly occurred at a May 2023 party in Ouray where drugs and alcohol were used, according to court records. The suspects were ages 17, 18 and 19 at the time, and the person who reported the rapes was 17, records said.

By Thursday evening, someone had returned a garbage bag full of newspapers to the Plaindealer, and supporters had donated about $2,000 to the paper, something Wiggins called “extremely heartening and humbling.”

The newspaper, which was founded in 1877, put up a story about the alleged rape on its website. The report notes that the teenage victim told the authorities that “she went in and out of consciousness and was raped at least three times in a bedroom and bathroom by two different people.”

Three suspects have been arrested in the case – Police Chief Jeff Wood’s stepson, Nate Dieffenderffer, Gabriel Trujillo and Ashton Whittington. At the time of the alleged incident, Trujillo was 19, Whittington had just turned 18 and they were celebrating his birthday, and Dieffenderffer was turning 18 in a matter of days. The Plaindealer has decided to name Dieffenderffer because of the severity of the allegations, though he technically was a juvenile on May 14, 2023, the date of the suspected incident.

On Saturday, the newspaper reported that a man “was cited this morning on suspicion of petty theft in connection with the theft of more than 200 printed copies of this week’s Ouray County Plaindealer.”

Paul Choate confessed to pilfering the papers early Thursday morning. He returned them later with an apology. This case is not quite as egregious as what happened to the Marion County Register in Kansas, but it goes to show how important local journalistic outlets are, especially when it comes to exposing local corruption.

Investigators were able to use video surveillance and several leads to conduct the investigation. The evidence showed Choate took the newspapers early Thursday morning after the new edition had been distributed to vending racks.

Choate, who owns Kate’s Place restaurant in Ridgway, admitted he took the newspapers because of the front page story. The Plaindealer reprinted 250 copies of this week’s edition before Choate returned the stolen copies.

Choate’s efforts will ultimately be in vain as the story is still up online–and the outlet will be publishing the issue again.

Originally Posted on: https://redstate.com/jeffc/2024/01/20/colorado-newspaper-vanishes-overnight-was-it-to-cover-up-police-chiefs-dark-secrets-n2169002

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