Newspapers stolen after reporting on rape investigation at police chief’s home

Newspapers stolen after reporting on rape investigation at police chief's home

A Colorado man was cited after the theft of more than 200 newspapers from delivery boxes, preventing people from buying The Ouray County Plaindealer, on the day it reported about a sexual assault investigation into the Ouray city police chief. A story was published on the front page.

Plaindealer said in a Note to readers All newspaper boxes in the city of Ouray and all but one in the city of Ridgway were emptied after delivery of the latest edition of the weekly newspaper on Thursday.

The note said, “Whoever did this doesn’t understand that stealing a newspaper doesn’t stop a story.”

plaindealer working since 1877 and reports on news in mountainous Ouray County, which is about 165 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, and has more than 5,000 residents.

Newspaper sold for 1 dollar, said on Thursday That someone took out all the newspapers from inside a dozen delivery boxes.

“From what we know so far, it appears that this person kept four quarters and all the papers in these racks,” the newspaper said. “It’s quite clear that no one wanted the community to read the news this week.”

Stolen version displayed a front page story About the arrest of three people after a 17-year-old girl was raped at least three times by two different men at the home of the Ore police chief in May 2023.

The police chief and others were at home and sleeping during the attack, the newspaper reported. Chief Jeff Wood did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

The three men arrested were aged 17, 18 and 19 at the time of the attack, and one of them is the stepson of the police chief, The Plaindealer reports.

The article did not name the accuser, now 18, but did include details of what happened that night, based on information provided in an arrest affidavit.

Ouray County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Friday that the suspect in the newspaper theft “was not a member or relative of local law enforcement and was not connected to the defendants in the recently reported sexual assault.”

The reported sexual assaults are being investigated by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, “to remove any perception of bias, and to remain above reproach,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

ore city said in a statement Thursday that his police department was “not involved in the investigation” of the sexual assaults and that no personnel investigation into the department was being conducted.

The Sheriff’s Office did not name the suspect in the newspaper theft in its statement, but general dealer Said office had cited Paul Choate, 41, on suspicion of petty theft.

Mr. Choate, a local restaurant owner, returned the stolen newspapers to The Plaindealer office Thursday night with an apology, the newspaper said.

He admitted that he had stolen the newspapers because of the news printed on the front page, Plaindealer reported, Mr. Choate could not be reached for comment Sunday.

“The Plaindealer is not disclosing Choate’s connection to the sexual harassment case,” the newspaper said. “The theft was in no way connected to the three defendants in the case, their families, or the Ouray Police Department.”

The Plaindealer said it had reprinted 250 copies of the edition before Mr. Choate returned the newspaper.

After announcing the theft, Plaindealer said it received more than $2,000 in donations,

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