Gang Rape Took Place in Police Chief’s Home While He Slept; Chief is Retired Charles County Sheriff Commander

Gang Rape Took Place in Police Chief’s Home While He Slept; Chief is Retired Charles County Sheriff Commander

Suspect Identified in Newspaper Theft

Ouray County, Colo –Ouray County Sheriff Justin Perry released the following statement clearing any law officers from the theft of newspapers in Ouray, Colorado:

In cooperation with the Ridgway Marshal’s Office, a suspect has been identified in the recent theft of newspapers in Ouray County, and the suspect will be cited for this crime. The suspect is not a member or relative of local law enforcement and is not associated with the defendants in the recent reported sexual assault.

The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that the investigation into the alleged sexual assault has been handled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since the incident was reported to the Sheriff’s Office. This was necessary to remove any perception of bias and to be above reproach.

CBI continues to be the investigating agency in this case, and the 7th Judicial District Attorney is handling the prosecution of the case. Questions regarding the case should be directed to CBI, as local Ouray County law enforcement agencies are not involved in the investigation.


Ridgway man cited in newspaper theft case.

By Plaindealer Staff Report on January 20, 2024

A Ridgway man was cited this morning on suspicion of petty theft in connection with the theft of more than 200 printed copies of this week’s Ouray County Plaindealer.

The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office cited Paul Choate, 41, who admitted to stealing the newspapers early Thursday morning. He returned them to the Plaindealer office Thursday night with an apology.

Copies of this week’s edition, which featured a front-page story detailing an alleged sexual assault reported to have occurred at the home of the Ouray police chief, were stolen from 12 racks in Ridgway and Ouray.

Investigators were able to use video surveillance and several leads to conduct the investigation. The evidence showed Choate took the newspapers early Thursday morning after the new edition had been distributed to vending racks.

Choate, who owns Kate’s Place restaurant in Ridgway, admitted he took the newspapers because of the front page story. The Plaindealer reprinted 250 copies of this week’s edition before Choate returned the stolen copies.

The reprinted copies were redistributed to racks Friday morning.

The Plaindealer is not disclosing Choate’s relationship to the sexual assault case.

The theft was not connected in any way to the three defendants in the case, their families or the Ouray Police Department. The citation is a court summons and does not include an affidavit with details about the investigation, which was conducted by the Sheriff’s Office and the Ridgway Marshal’s Office. A law enforcement incident report will not be available until next week.


From Ouray County Plaindealer:

Girl: Rapes occurred at chief’s house

By Erin McIntyre,, on January 17, 2024

The accuser claims she was assaulted multiple times while the Ouray police chief and family slept.

A 17-year-old girl told investigators she was raped more than once at the Ouray police chief’s home in May during a late-night party with the chief’s stepson and two other suspects. During interviews with investigators she said she screamed and fought back, while others slept upstairs.

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation affidavit for arrests in the case details a night of drugs, drinking, and alleged sex assault, where the victim told investigators she went in and out of consciousness and was raped at least three times in a bedroom and bathroom by two different people.

Three suspects have been arrested in the case – Police Chief Jeff Wood’s stepson, Nate Dieffenderffer, Gabriel Trujillo, and Ashton Whittington. At the time of the alleged incident, Trujillo was 19, Whittington had just turned 18, and they were celebrating his birthday, and Dieffenderffer was turning 18 in a matter of days. The Plaindealer has decided to name Dieffenderffer because of the severity of the allegations, though he technically was a juvenile on May 14, 2023, the date of the suspected incident.  READ MORE FROM OURAY PLAINDEALER ON THIS STORY


Ouray Police Department Chief Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood joined the City of Ouray in December 2019, after serving the Charles County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland for 25 years; he has been in the command level of policing for the past 17 years.


Jeff has his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland with an emphasis on police management and community policing and has attended Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.

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