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Colorado Judicial Department enters into 2 contracts for independent investigations

One investigation will examine allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination
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Posted at 11:36 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 15:14:42-04

DENVER — The Colorado Judicial Department has entered into two contracts, including one with a company that will investigate allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the system.

On Wednesday morning, the department said Investigations Law Group, LLC will look into those allegations. They signed the contract on Monday.

READ MORE: Allegations of sexual harassment, sexism within Colorado judicial system outlined in memo

The second contract is with RCT, Ltc., which will investigate "the circumstances of a training-services contract," the department said. Currently, there are claims that this was improperly awarded to a former senior administrator, the department said. RCT, Ltc. signed the contract on Oct. 12.

In February 2021, David Migoya, the Denver Post investigative reporter who broke the story of allegations of sexual harassment and sexism in the system, said that he was tipped off about a questionable contract two years ago. The $2.5 million, five-year contract for judicial training was awarded to Mindy Masias, a former judicial department chief of staff, in a no-bid process.

“The rub to that was that she was facing discipline, they were looking to fire her,” Migoya said. “What nobody knew — what was behind it — was the why. Why was somebody facing firing all the sudden given a very lucrative contract?”

After his initial reporting, Migoya was able to interview former State Court Administrator Christopher Ryan, who claimed the contract was the result of a meeting between Masias and judicial department officials where she threatened a sexual discrimination lawsuit if she was fired. Before accepting the contract, Masias had to sign a separation agreement with the department.

“Part of Ms. Masias’s separation agreement was to turn over a secret tape recording that she had made with — at the time all we knew was — a justice of the Supreme Court. It turned out to be the chief justice,” Migoya told Denver7 in February.

That recording apparently showed former Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Masias discussing sexism in the workplace.

Migoya said the Supreme Court has denied the contract was made in order to keep the allegations silent.

According to the memo, the allegations against judges included an instance where a judge sent a pornographic video out using a judicial email and another where a judge exposed and rubbed his hairy chest on a female employee’s back and no disciplinary measures were taken. The memo also details allegations of sexual relationships between staffers and that some were sending inappropriate photos and having sexual relations with vendors on state time and on state property. It also alleges that female employees are terminated at a much higher rate than men and have a more difficult time getting promoted.

Following the memo's release, Gov. Jared Polis said that type of conduct had no place in Colorado.

"Every person should feel safe in the workplace and every Coloradan should be able to feel confident in the integrity of our judicial system and the high standards to which we hold our judges and our judicial system," he said.

On Wednesday, Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright said he was pleased to have entered into the two contracts for the investigations.

“Investigations into both matters will begin immediately," he said. "We expect the process to last several months and will provide timely updates as often as possible.”

These decisions came in the wake of Chief Justice Boatright calling for the investigations, plus recommendations from leaders from the Executive and Legislative branches of Colorado government.

“With the investigations ready to proceed, this serves as a reminder that the entire Judicial Branch is expected to cooperate with the requests and inquiries made by the investigators,” Chief Justice Boatright said. “As previously promised, the results of the investigations and recommendations of the investigators will be taken seriously and made public. I sincerely hope recommendations will be made regarding steps for critical improvements moving forward.”

As of Wednesday morning, no other details were available. Denver7 is working to learn more.