Steamboat Springs Public Safety Directory J.D. Hays, right, and police Capt. Joel Rae on Nov. 17 address the sexual assault rumors circulating in Steamboat. The pair plans to hold a informational meeting for the public from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs Public Safety Directory J.D. Hays, right, and police Capt. Joel Rae on Nov. 17 address the sexual assault rumors circulating in Steamboat. The pair plans to hold a informational meeting for the public from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

Police, Advocates join for answers

Groups to host town hall meeting to address rumors

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The Steamboat Springs Police Depart­ment and Advocates Building Peaceful Communities’ town-hall-style meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall. Police and victims’ advocates will discuss recent rumors and sexual assaults in Steamboat Springs. The event is free and open to the public.

Who to call

Anyone with knowledge of a crime can call police at 970-879-4344. Advocates also staffs a 24-hour crisis hot line for victims of domestic violence and crimes of a sexual nature. The hot line number is 879-8888.

— The Steamboat Springs Police Department is partnering with Advocates Building Peaceful Communities to provide answers and address rumors circulating about sexual assaults in Steamboat.

The police force and the victims’ advocate group will hold a town hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall to discuss the rumors and to answer questions from the community.

“It seems the rumor mill is kind of out of control with these alleged sexual assaults,” Capt. Joel Rae said, citing e-mail forwards and text messages. “We want to do our best in quashing that and in relating the facts that have been reported to us.”

Public Safety Director J.D. Hays said the rumors have escalated with some including that a person has committed multiple attacks.

“It has led to this rumor that there is some sort of sexual predator running around doing things, and it’s our belief at this point that that is not happening,” he said.

One recent e-mail, titled “Warning for all Steamboat Women,” stated that a rape happened downtown “in the last few days” before Nov. 12, but the police and the Steamboat Pilot & Today were not reporting about it because it is an ongoing investigation. Rae said that is not true, and nothing similar was reported to police.

He said he was cautious because he does not want to discount the possibility that someone had been assaulted and had not reported it to the police, but said, “We don’t have any information to substantiate that these sexual assaults have occurred, and they have not been reported to us.”

Advocates Executive Direc­tor Diane Moore said more sexual assaults generally are reported to her group than to the police because some victims are uncomfortable speaking to law enforcement, but she hasn’t found anything to verify the recent rumors.

“I don’t have any information that tells me anything is going on; however, I do know that there are survivors of sexual violence who choose not to talk to law enforcement or our agency and (I) would not want to discount the possibility that something is going on,” she said.

The meeting will include a presentation by Moore and Detective Dave Kleiber. Rae and Hays also will answer questions about sexual assaults or any other topic at the meeting.

Moore said she has not tried to track down the source of the rumors. Hays said he called one woman who sent an e-mail about recent assaults and told her about the upcoming meeting, but otherwise police are not looking into the source of the rumors.

Rae said the investigation into a reported rape Oct. 21 at 11th and Oak streets still is being processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. An investigation into a second reported sexual assault on River Road is basically closed, and no charges will be filed because there is “not enough consistent information to pursue a case at this point.”

Anyone with specific knowledge of a crime can call police at 970-879-4344. Advocates also staffs a 24-hour crisis hot line for victims of domestic violence and crimes of a sexual nature. The hot line number is 879-8888.

— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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