by Rick Langenberg:
After months of court hearings, recall threats and various appearances, former Woodland Park Mayor David Turley, will face a jury trial on Feb. 24 for charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. The announcement of the forthcoming trial was made recently, as Turley, who stepped down from his post as mayor in July, pleaded not guilty to the charges in court. The trial will be held in the Fourth Judicial District Court.
This will mark the first time in the recent history of Woodland Park a head elected mayor faces these types of potential felony allegations. The case has jolted local civic leaders, as Turley was a popular mayor, who easily won the seat during two consecutive elections. Prior to serving as mayor, he was a member of the city council for two years and has been involved with American Legion and a variety of youth-related organizations.
Turley, though, has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings. Even when he stepped down, he noted that he hoped to remain involved with the city at a later date. “The reality is that given the allegations against me and the legal constraints placed upon me, I cannot continue to provide the attention to the city of Woodland Park that it so richly deserves. I want to state very clearly that I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me and I look forward to having my name cleared of such in a court of law,” stated Turley in his official resignation letter.
Turley, who held onto his mayoral post for more than a month after his initial arrest, faced much pressure to surrender his seat. A recall drive was getting ready to kick off, just prior to Turley’s decision to step down. Citizens organizing the effort maintained that Woodland Park’s family-oriented image was getting trashed by the scandal.
The charges stem from Turley’s relationship with a 17-year-old teen, whom the former mayor was reportedly mentoring According to court documents, Turley allegedly touched the teen’s genitals while they were sitting in a hot tub together at his home. He also reportedly photographed the boy and kept the photos on a laptop and bought sports equipment, a video game system and an iPhone for the teen. He also offered to pay thousands dollars for summer baseball and college expenses.
Turley was arrested in late May, following an investigation by Woodland Park and Colorado Springs police officials. The case featured a number of delays in pre-trail hearings, prior to the recent announcement of Turley’s not guilty plea. While Turley’s legal status will be determined by the outcome of the forthcoming trial, Woodland Park has moved ahead in picking a new mayor. Neil Levy, a well-known restaurant owner and coach, was selected as mayor in a process that generated much interest. He will serve as mayor for the remainder of Turley’s term that expires in April 2016. However, with this appointment, Levy will assume a front-runner status if he seeks this position again
Few incumbent mayors have ever been defeated in Woodland Park.