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Woodland Park Police discuss increase in sex assault arrests, warn parents of predators

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- In recent months, the Woodland Park Police Department has made arrests on multiple felony sex assaults. Now, the department is warning parents about potential predators in their community.

The Woodland Park Police Department told 13 Investigates they've investigated twelve separate sex assault cases. Of those cases, KRDO has covered two cases specifically extensively, the arrests of Samuel Harris and Johnathan Burruss.

Harris is accused of engaging in sexual relations with multiple female minors. After being arrested in late May on four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and sex assault, he posted a $20,000 bond.

While out, Harris was arrested again on a separate sex assault felony. Despite this being his second arrest regarding the sexual assault of a child, he was able to post a $10,000 bond and get released.

Burress is accused of "engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor child while in a position of trust" while he worked at the Sonic restaurant in Woodland Park. He faces four charges including felony sexual assault while in a position of trust, felony sex assault, felony sex assault on a child - pattern of abuse, and misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact on a minor.

Woodland Park PD has posted pictures of these two men getting arrested at their place of work.

"My only goal is simple, to highlight the work done by these officers and this staff for this public. Period," Chief Chris Diesler said. "If that looks like a picture of a suspect being walked to a car, so be it. The message is very simple. If you come here to victimize our residents and our community, we will make sure you famous."

Diesler was hired nearly four months ago as the Chief of Police. He said one of his main objectives was to instill greater transparency in the department.

"One of the biggest goals I've had coming in here was to increase transparency in the agency. Whether that is our policies and procedures, or highlighting that these fine men and women do every day for the community," Diesler said.

The woman behind investigating sex assaults on minors is Shannon Everhart. She tells 13 Investigates she has investigated 85 sex assaults since she joined WPPD in 2014.

"If you see something say something. I think more and more people are doing that," Everhart said. "We don't just take somebody's word for it and say 'okay let's go arrest somebody,' that's not how it works. It takes many months to build something up."

The WPD urges parents to stay involved and in touch with their child's social media activity. More importantly, who their children are speaking to online.

"Watch what they are doing on social media. Be involved with what they are doing. If you don't take a proactive role in it, I can assure you, it's not going to end well," Diesler.

Article Topic Follows: Investigations
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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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