Colorado newspaper’s copies stolen after reporting on sexual assault at police chief’s house

More than 200 copies of the small-town newspaper were reportedly stolen from vendor shelves
More than 200 copies of the small-town newspaper were reportedly stolen from vendor shelves - MIKE WIGGINS/OURAY COUNTY PLAINDEALER

Nearly all the copies of a small-town Colorado newspaper were stolen after it published a story of an alleged sexual assault at the local police chief’s house.

The Ouray County Plaindealer reported that sexual assault charges had been filed against three men, including a relative of the police chief, for actions that allegedly occurred at a party in May last year.

The incident is said to have happened at the home of Jeff Wood, Ouray’s police chief, where drugs and alcohol were present.

The suspects were aged 17, 18 and 19 at the time, and the person who reported the rapes was 17, records said.

After the story made the front page of the Plaindealer’s weekly edition, the newspaper said more than 200 copies went missing from vending racks around the town.

‘We’ll find out who did this’

Its owner and publisher, Mark Wiggins, said: “If you hoped to silence or intimidate us, you failed miserably. We’ll find out who did this. And another press run is imminent.”

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 Mr Wiggins called “extremely heartening and humbling”.

Mr Wiggins believed the person who returned the newspapers was the person who took them and that only one person was involved in the theft.

Mr Wiggins declined to identify the person, but he reported the information to police. Officers also had surveillance video of some of the thefts, he said.

The Ouray Country Sheriff’s office said the suspect is “not a member or relative of local law enforcement and not associated with the defendants in the recent reported sexual assault”.

The Ouray County Plaindealer is published on Thursdays and delivered to racks late Wednesday. The rack price for the weekly newspaper is $1, but subscribers can also receive the paper by mail.

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