Woman reports harassment, assault by man posing as staff in popular Botanic Gardens corn maze

Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 20:30:12-04

DENVER — A patron of the Denver Botanic Gardens' popular Halloween corn maze said she was forcefully thrown to the ground by a masked person posing as a staff member inside the event.

The victim, who asked to remain nameless, made a detailed statement to police, detailing being harassed, thrown and dragged by a man who blocked her way through the maze.

"He tried to get her to 'touch him' and 'dance with him or kiss him' to be able to pass by," a police report taken by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reads. 

When the victim became aggravated with the unwanted advances, she told police the man grabbed her, "whipped her around," and threw her to the ground before dragging her.

A person in the victim's group of friends came back to find her and confronted the man for dragging the victim.

"Instead of running away, the man stood his ground and in a very aggressive tone, said 'This is what you paid for,'" Mark Techmeyer, with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, said.

The victim said she told staff members at the maze what happened and reported that they said they had taken four similar reports that night.

Customers aren't allowed to use masks inside the maze, but the victim said the suspect wore a white mask at the time. Officials said the suspect brought the mask in concealed and put the mask on later.

Police say they're actively investigating, but confirmed the Botanic Gardens did not have any staff in the maze that night matching the description.

Officials with the Denver Botanic Gardens said they are bringing in more security to address the concern ahead of the busiest night of the year. 

"This is a very unfortunate incident and has not happened at the Gardens before at our corn maze. We are doing everything we can to ensure that it does not happen again," Erin Bird, with the Denver Botanic Gardens, said.

Going forward the Botanic Gardens will not allow anybody to bring a mask in and have posted additional warnings that no masks will be allowed.

"In addition to the security and police staff, we do have some volunteers that were on the lookout platform that have a great view of the overall maze. So if you do feel something is not right, feel free to scream or call out, someone will come to where you are," Bird said. 

Officials say an off-duty deputy who was at the event and did not know about the claims of harassment and assault removed a person with a mask from the maze on the night of the alleged assault.

Police say they're working to get in contact with the person who was escorted away. 

Lance Hernandez contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.