Woodland Park Residents Stunned Over Arrest Of Mayor

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by Rick Langenberg:

 

Woodland Park residents and civic leaders are still reeling over the arrest of Mayor Dave Turley late last week for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, a class-four felony.

Turley, who says he plans to fight the allegations 100 percent, faces his first court appearance this Wednesday in Cripple Creek. He also indicated that he is currently evaluating his status as mayor.

By charter rules, Turley can still retain his mayoral post, unless he is convicted of the crime. “I am absolutely devastated. My community is my life,” said Turley, who recently started his second term as mayor, on Monday morning. He wouldn?t discuss the allegations, other than to say, “They make me sick to my stomach. I will just have to work through this.” The mayor says he has received much support from friends and community members, citing many encouraging phone calls and visits from local residents.

Most local residents and those who know Turley are shocked by the allegations, and are refraining from any specific comments until the case unfolds in the courts. Turley has been a popular mayor and is known for his involvement with many youth programs and veteran groups, such as the American Legion. He won both of his mayoral races by wide margins. Prior to serving as mayor, Turley was a councilman for two years. During his time as mayor, Turley has been a frequent participant at many community events.

The Woodland Park Police announced the mayor’s arrest in a press conference last Friday afternoon. According to Police Chief Bob Larson, the arrest occurred early Friday morning at the Woodland Park Police Station, following questioning of Turley by law enforcement authorities from Woodland Park and Colorado Springs. Turley, who recently returned from an extended trip overseas, agreed to be questioned at the WP Police Station.
Larson wouldn’t reveal any details regarding the extent of the interview, or any details about the alleged victim. The arrest affidavit has been sealed by the court to protect the identity of the alleged victim. Officials have declined to comment on the age of the alleged victim and the circumstances behind the arrest. Turley, whose bond was set at $10,000, was released from the Teller County Jail Friday morning.

Larson did confirm that the sexual assault allegations only stemmed from one victim. He said an investigation into the allegations began several weeks ago and approximately 10 people were interviewed. He also told the media that both Turley’s car and house were searched, but didn’t elaborate. “When we realized the person we were investigating was the town’s mayor, we asked for assistance from another agency,” said Larson. He stated that WP Police received help from the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Teller County Department of Social Services. Larson, a veteran of the WP Park Police Department for more than 30 years, said this represents the first time he remembers an acting member of the city council getting arrested for a felony during his/her term in office.

During last week’s press conference, both Larson and Assistant City Manager Cindy Morse stressed that Turley wasn’t given any preferential treatment and that the case would proceed through the normal legal channels and no presumption of guilt would be made. Consequently, Turley will remain as mayor unless he opts to step down.

Despite the recent turn of events, city officials have taken a “business as normal” attitude. “This (the city of Woodland Park) is an entity of integrity and trust,” said Morse. “We will move forward.” By law, the only way a WP elected leader can surrender his/her post is through resignation, recall, illness, incapacitation, death, relocation out of the area or conviction of a felony.

If Turley does give up his seat, then the council would conduct an appointment process and Carol Harvey, the current mayor pro tem, would serve as the interim mayor.

The next regular meeting of the Woodland Park City Council is slated for June 5.