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Sexual harassment claim may have led to Manitou Springs Police Chief’s resignation

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The City of Manitou Springs denied our request for more information about why former Police Chief Brian Churchill resigned last week. However, the denial letter provided insight into what the city was investigating: a possible sexual harassment claim.

The city council, mayor and a spokesperson for Manitou Springs have all repeatedly refused to provide any additional information related to the circumstances surrounding the investigation or Churchill's resignation. Churchill was placed on paid administrative leave on January 21 while the Manitou Springs human resources department investigated a "confidential personnel matter."

13 Investigates submitted a public records request with the city of Manitou Springs after Churchill's resignation seeking a resignation letter, disciplinary, investigative, and any settlement records related to Churchill's employment with the city.

The city responded saying Churchill did not submit a resignation letter and there were no related settlement records.

Here's the response the city of Manitou Springs clerk sent 13 Investigates this week after we requested the disciplinary and investigation files for Churchill.

Section C.R.S. § 24-72-204(3)(a)(X)(A) of Colorado state code is only related to sexual harassment complaints and investigations.

It says: "Any records of sexual harassment complaints and investigations, whether or not such records are maintained as part of a personnel file; except that, an administrative agency investigating the complaint may, upon a showing of necessity to the custodian of records, gain access to information necessary to the investigation of such a complaint. This sub-subparagraph (A) shall not apply to records of sexual harassment complaints and investigations that are included in court files and records of court proceedings. Disclosure of all or a part of any records of sexual harassment complaints and investigations to the person in interest is permissible to the extent that the disclosure can be made without permitting the identification, as a result of the disclosure, of any individual involved. This sub-subparagraph (A) shall not preclude disclosure of all or part of the results of an investigation of the general employment policies and procedures of an agency, office, department, or division, to the extent that the disclosure can be made without permitting the identification, as a result of the disclosure, of any individual involved."

Churchill was paid an annual salary of $105,000 by Manitou Springs, according to city records obtained by 13 Investigates. Officials told 13 Investigates in February that no disciplinary records related to Churchill's employment with the city of Manitou Springs currently existed.

Before becoming Manitou Springs' Police Chief in October 2019, Churchill had spent more than 20 years as an officer with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD).

While in Indiana, 13 Investigates found Churchill faced an internal investigation after a 911 caller reported seeing him being "inappropriate with a female companion." When IMPD police arrived at the scene, Churchill apparently flashed his gun and his badge at officers. Officers told TV station WTHR they believed Churchill was drunk at the time and drove him home.

IMPD would not confirm anything about the 2011 investigation into Churchill. It's unclear if he was disciplined after the incident or if the City of Manitou Springs was aware of the 2011 allegations when Churchill was hired.

The city of Manitou Springs previously appointed detective Bill Otto as the acting police chief. Before being appointed, Otto served as a detective for the Manitou Springs Police Department.

13 Investigates reached out to an attorney that represents Churchill for comment. They told us they would contact him immediately to see if he wished to comment, but we have not yet heard back.

If you have a tip or lead you would like our team to investigate, contact us at 13Investigates@krdo.com.

Colorado Springs / Investigations / Local News

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

Dan Beedie

Dan is a bureau reporter based out of Pueblo. Learn more about Dan here.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. “the denial letter provided insight into what the city was investigating: a possible sexual harassment claim”
    .
    That’s exactly what a few commenters here suggested as the reason after the previous non-announcement.

  2. Yup and by not saying anything but providing the information they provided through the Colorado Open records act it can be easily assumed that the “Sexual Harassment complaint and investigation occurred between someone that was not a private citizen. Ergo it, more likely than not, was a city employee as the alleged victim. It will be interesting if there is a criminal case to follow or not now. Even more interesting is how Manitou Springs cannot confirm or deny they had conducted a proper investigation before hiring him. Would have assumed that his expose on the local news would have come up as a red flag for hiring him. With him repeating the pattern behavior, it now makes the city even more complicit and or negligent in their duties of conducting a proper background check. Which is what, I imagine is their rationale as to why they really do not want to discuss this topic at all.

  3. Manitou Springs does not seem care about it’s people. I TRIED to file a complaint against one of it’s Officers hired from Hawaii, I believe. They refused the complaint, then told me the Officer I wanted to file against, would most likely be reviewing my complaint.
    In my opinion, those in charge are shady and could care less about residents and businesses. It is their leadership that drove out many artists and many businesses are now foreign/out of State owned. Their long tested inability to act, or acting for the few instead of the many have killed Manitou. Tourism is crap because they cant in 50 years or better take care of the parking problem. Their idea of fixing that is take away spots for business owners and residents, while taking every dime they can from both. Ineffectual is an understatement.

    1. I couldn’t agree about the parking issue more. Since they installed their parking meters and required parking permits for off the main strip parking or citation to be issued, I stopped going to their city. It is a shame as once I loved going there and going and spending money in the shops. I haven’t been back since though so I am sad to hear it has become so corporatized as the local shops were what made it a fun and enjoyable day.

  4. Ya didn’t they hire out of town or out of state to run that parking kiosk mess they have? I pretty much quit shopping there as well. Park, walk to kiosk, get ticket,(if you have correct currency, sorry not using a charge card to park) walk back to car to put ticket on dash etc. Nope.

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