Former Woodland Mayor Takes Plea Deal In Sexual Assault On A Child Case
No Jail Time In Turley Plea Bargain
By Rick Langenberg
The highly publicized case surrounding a former Woodland Park mayor, accused of sexual assault charges, has reached an apparent conclusion.
As a result, the community, the male teen victim and David Turley, 66, will be spared a criminal trial. And moreover, Turley, who served as mayor and councilman for Woodland Park for a little more than four years, won’t face any jail time. His sentencing hearing is set for May 11 at 1:30 p.m. in District Court in Cripple Creek, when the deal will be finalized.
As part of the proposed deal, Turley must plead guilty to another similar charge and undergo intensive, supervised probation and treatment for four years and register as a sex offender. Under the arrangement, he would be charged with criminal intent to commit sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, which amounts to a Class Five felony. The charge could be dropped if Turley successfully completes the terms of his probation, according to officials from the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The original charge was sexual assault on a child by a one in a position of trust, which is more serious.
Turley was arrested last May, following an investigation conducted by several agencies, including the Colorado Springs Police. The charges stemmed from his relationship with a 17-year-old teen, he was reportedly mentoring. The crux of the charges dealt with allegations that Turley touched the boy inappropriately in a hot tub at the former mayor’s residence and gave the teen a questionable amount of gifts and offered to pay him $10,000 for college. Questions also arose over photos Turley took of the boy and stored on his computer.
According to Woodland Park Police Chief Bob Larson, the charge Turley has agreed to amounts to an admission that he attempted to commit sexual assault on a child, but wasn’t successful. He said this particular charge is usually assessed to protect youths who may participate in sporting events and other activities, involving close contact with adult coaches, peers and supervisors.
Larson said officials are relieved the teen victim and his family won’t have to undergo what could have been a very difficult and trying trial. “It was sad that this happened to this boy,” said Larson, in commenting on the case.
Larson said he was surprised when he first learned of the charges, mainly because he knew Turley. But the police chief admitted that these types of sexual assault allegations are “always surprising.”
As part of the proposed deal, Larson said the former mayor would have to undergo an intensive three-stage, supervised sex offender probation and treatment period, involving regular meetings with a therapist/psychologist, probation officer and others and submit to polygraph tests.
Most local officials aren’t commenting on the recent deal. “We are moving on,” said Woodland Park City Manager David Buttery, who maintains that the criminal justice system ran its course.
Similar comments were echoed by other civic leaders, who appear relieved that the community will be spared a highly publicized trial.
Turley resigned from his mayoral post in early July, after he faced a probable recall campaign. According to the city charter, he didn’t have to step down unless he was convicted of a felony.
In his resignation letter, the former mayor, maintained his innocence, but contended that the criminal case was creating a nuisance for Woodland Park. “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,” said Turley in his letter.
“My community is my life,” said the former mayor, shortly after he was arrested. “They (allegations made against me) make me sick to my stomach.”
However, from the get-go, the former mayor appeared to face an uphill legal battle, based on the evidence presented by the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Several community leaders privately commented that they anticipated a plea deal would be reached eventually.
His case had undergone a slew of delays, with a variety of motions and hearings. The trial was originally scheduled to begin around Feb. 24.
According to Larson, these types of delays aren’t unusual for a high-profile, sex assault case of this magnitude.
The case represented the first time in the history of Woodland Pak a mayor was accused of a felony. This created a bizarre scenario for the city. Following the resignation of Turley, the city engaged in a competitive appointment process for Turley’s replacement, a decision that was eventually reached by a chance drawing, with Swiss Chalet restaurant owner Neil Levy getting the nod as the new mayor.
But this process raised a number of questions, and is a major reason why the city is now looking at forming a charter review committee to change its current laws. Unless Turley had resigned or was recalled, the city’s hands were tied in how it could resolve the situation.
Prior to his arrest, Turley was considered a highly popular elected leader, who was known for his “no nonsense” way of running local meetings and scrutinizing certain city expenses and in lauding the achievements of local youth. He won two mayoral bids by fairly significant margins and was heavily involved with several local organizations, such as the American Legion, and was associated with youth groups. During his stint as mayor, he served as a frequent city ambassador at award ceremonies and community presentations.