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Ouray police chief placed on paid leave amid investigation into alleged rapes at his home

Ouray Police Chief Jeff Wood
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 19:55:59-05

OURAY, Colo. — Ouray Police Chief Jeff Wood was placed on paid administrative leave Monday amid an investigation into rapes alleged to have occurred during a party at the police chief's house while the chief was asleep.

In a press release, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) announced an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile at an Ouray home on May 14, 2023. The investigation was launched at the request of the Ouray County Sheriff's Office.

CBI said three people were arrested — Gabriel Trujillo, 20, Ashton Whittington, 18, and a juvenile who was not named by the department. Each faces a charge of sexual assault, a Class 3 felony.

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In its reporting of the alleged crime, the Ouray County Plaindealer identified the juvenile as Nathan Dieffenderffer, Wood's stepson. The City of Ouray confirmed the chief's stepson was under investigation in its announcement Monday.

An unnamed girl, who was 17 years old at the time, said she was raped several times while attending Whittington's birthday party at the police chief's home in May 2023. The three suspects and the girl were drinking alcohol together, according to the 24-page, highly redacted arrest affidavit.

The girl said she felt "super lightheaded" and "out of it" after having two Jack Daniels seltzers and two shots of gin. In one "electronic communication" with one of the suspects, the girl wrote, "I was definitely on something other than alcohol did u (sic) (redacted) have anything else there that could have ended up in my drink or something," the affidavit states.

The girl reported that she was first raped by one suspect while the other two watched. According to the affidavit, the girl said one of the onlookers "looked fine with what had happened, and one looked "horrified."" The girl said she was then taken to the bathroom and raped again by two suspects, the affidavit states.

"I remember crying so hard I felt like I couldn't breathe and saying "stop" and "get off" but still wasn't strong enough to get up," the girl said, according to the affidavit.

The girl eventually got up off the bathroom floor, grabbed a green sweatshirt from a pile of laundry and drove home, the affidavit states.

Three people "were upstairs in the same house, sleeping" during the party, according to the document. Wood was not named a suspect in the affidavit.

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The city said Wood will remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings. Sergeant Gary Ray has taken the role of acting police chief.

Trujillo and Whittington were booked into the Montrose County Jail and each given a $60,000 cash/surety bond. Dieffenderffer was arrested in Kansas and extradited to Colorado. All three posted bond and were released from jail, according to the Ouray County Plaindealer.

The same day the Ouray County Plaindealer reported the alleged crime, a man allegedly stole nearly every copy. Owner and publisher Mike Wiggins said the newspaper responded by posting the story on social media, removing the website's firewall and printing another 250 copies of the paper.

The papers were taken the morning of Jan. 18. By that evening, someone returned a garbage bag worth of papers, and supporters had donated about $2,000 to the paper.

Paul Choate was issued a summons on Jan. 20 for petty theft, according to the Ouray County Sheriff's Office. The department said Choate "is not a member or relative of local law enforcement and not associated with the defendants in the recent reported sexual assault.”

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If you or someone you know have been the victim of sexual assault, help is available through the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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