Colorado Thief Admits To Stealing Newspapers Reporting On Arrest Of Police Chief’s Son For Rape

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Colorado Thief Newspapers
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A Colorado thief proclaimed that he was the one who stole hundreds of copies of a newspaper the same day a damaging report about the local police chief’s stepson came out.

Nearly all the copies of the Ouray Plaindealer were stolen after the the newspaper broke a story about the arrest of Nate Dieffenderffer, stepson of Ouray Police Chief Jeff Wood.

Dieffenderffer, along with Gabriel Trujillo and Ashton Whittington, were charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in the family’s home while the police chief was asleep.

Colorado thief turns himself in for stealing newspapers

The Ouray County Sheriff’s Office identified Paul Choate, 41, as the person who snatched hundreds of papers the day of the report.

Choate reportedly voluntarily surrendered to the police on Monday, after revealing that he was behind the thefts in a Facebook post.

“I want the public to know that I was the culprit of the Ouray Plaindealer theft,” he wrote. “I turned myself in the Sheriffs office and returned the papers to the Plaindealer.”

Choate said that he returned the stolen papers, and offered to compensate the outlet for the damages he caused.

In a follow-up post on Monday, the Ouray resident said that he “became aware” of the article about the police chief’s stepson on Jan. 18, but didn’t steal the papers to protect him.

“My motivation behind this is to bring to light that no details in any victims statements and interviews should be posted without their consent,” he explained.

Choate noted that he was “appalled by the graphic details” in the article, and believes that it was “irresponsible” to publish the report without including “links to resources.”

He also pointed out that the paper’s previous article about the sexual assault “provided sufficient and well written information about the case without delving into explicit details and revictimize the girl involved.”

Colorado thief claims report was too graphic

The Plaindealer’s article included the explicit details stemming from the arrests.

The 17-year-old victim told police that she joined her alleged attackers at Wood’s home to celebrate Wittington’s eighteenth birthday with booze and hard seltzers.

The girl said she passed out in a bedroom of the home, only to wake up to find herself naked and Dieffenderffer, Wood’s stepson, sexually assaulting her while the others watched.

She reportedly tried to get Dieffenderffer off of her, but was restrained until he finished and she was dragged into a bathroom across the hall.

That’s where she was sexually assaulted by the two other men, who held her down on the bathroom floor as she went in and out of consciousness.

The assault was so violent that she chipped a tooth, and caused her to scream because of how painful it was.

The victim eventually lost consciousness again, only to wake up completely naked and unable to find her clothes ad around 4:30am.

She grabbed a sweatshirt out of a pile of laundry and fled. The sweatshirt was later discovered to belong to Chief Wood.

A friend took her to the hospital the same day for a sexual assault examination, and DNA evidence came back as a match for Dieffenderffer and Trujillo.

The case was initially handled by the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office, but quickly taken over by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Trujillo told investigators that he was not an active participant in the assault, despite his genetic material being recovered from the vaginal swab.

He claimed that he, Dieffenderffer, and the victim had previously had a “three-way” relationship and claimed the girl was a pathological liar.

Newspaper blasts Colorado thief for stealing papers

The newspaper published all of these details in their Jan. 18 report, which Choate deemed to “graphic” for public consumption.

But the Plaindealer said he already had a “grudge” against the paper prior to them publishing the story.

In a statement, the publication said that when they spoke with him, Choate “alternated between saying he was sorry and lashing out against us for doing our jobs.”

They initially were considering not reporting his name to avoid causing “further harm” to the people involved in the case, but he “removed that option” by calling the areas largest television station and confessing that he was the thief.

The Plaindealer said that his choice to steal the newspapers managed to cause “more harm” to the victim he claimed to be protecting.

‘If Paul Choate had seemed truly apologetic, we would have not pursued charges,” the statement continued.

“The fact remains – he tried to prevent others from reading a story about a serious crime reported in Ouray County.”

‘It backfired, and now that story has spread much farther than it would have, had he not tried to suppress the public’s right to know and the freedom of the press,” they concluded.

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