The Denver District Attorney's Office strives to provide accurate information and proper context to the public through the media on cases and issues of public interest.
Occasionally a story may misrepresent or misinterpret the facts. In those cases, we can "set the record straight" by making additional information available directly to the public.
Setting the Record Straight
A story in The Denver Post on October 28, 2015, about a $3.9 million award to a sexual assault victim, inaccurately reports a number of things that need clarification.
Those clarifications are below, but it is important for the citizens of Denver to know that advocating for victims is a top concern in every case we file, including the case that is the focus of this seemingly biased news story. The goal of this story seemed to be to convince readers that the Denver DA’s Office failed to do all we could on behalf of the victim. The truth is that this case was properly charged based on the facts, and that the victim and her attorney were involved in the discussions that led to the final resolution of the case. The victim was treated with dignity and respect through the entire process. She was assured that we believed her and that what she did for a living did not matter. We also reassured her that she didn’t deserve what happened to her. The prosecutor and her team worked very hard on this case, met and spoke with the victim numerous times, and helped her utilize our office’s resources. For her civil attorney to imply otherwise is disingenuous.
In addition to the net impression of the news story, these points need clarification. They are in chronological order rather than order of significance:
The Post reports:
A Denver jury has awarded a former stripper $3.9 million in a sexual assault lawsuit against a wealthy Colorado rancher.
The judge presiding over the civil trial described the attack as "indescribably brutal," but in 2013 Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey chose to drop the original criminal charge to misdemeanor unlawful contact instead of felony sexual assault.
Contrary to what the story reports above, the District Attorney was not actually involved in this case. To imply that he personally made the decisions regarding the guilty plea is incorrect, especially after we spoke with the reporter and provided the name of the prosecutor to whom this case was assigned.
The Post reports:
The Denver District Attorney's Office lowered Pauling's charge from a felony sexual assault charge to a misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact charge in October 2013.
This is stated incorrectly. The defendant agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor. As part of the guilty plea agreement, the original felony charge was dismissed. The Post fails to note that he was sentenced to 5 years of intensive sexual offender supervised probation and must register as a sex offender.
The Post reports:
Lynn Kimbrough, the district attorney's spokeswoman, said she did not know why the plea deal was offered because she had not been able to speak to the prosecutor on the case.
This was true on Monday when the reporter first called to ask about the decision to negotiate a guilty plea in this case. By the time the reporter submitted the story for the print edition of the paper later in the week, this was no longer true.
The Post reports:
The Denver District Attorney's Office told Ms. Wilson that no one would believe her because of her status as a former exotic dancer.
This is perhaps the most offensive part of this news story. It is simply not true. To let such an inflammatory and fabricated claim stand as a factual piece of information does a disservice to this community. It is the Post reporter and her headline writer who seem to want to trumpet her work history. It was never a relevant fact in the criminal case. There were a number of factors that went into the negotiated guilty plea but none of those factors had anything to do with her “former status.”
Setting The Record Straight October 2015
Recent media coverage that mentioned the Denver District Attorney’s Office included misinformation about Denver’s participation in a U Visa program. The inference was that Denver does not have a U Visa program; this is untrue.
(A U Visa allows temporary, and in some cases permanent, legal status in the United States to some victims of serious crime.)
In Denver, there is a coordinated approach to U Visa applications that involves the Denver Police Department, the Denver District Attorney’s Office and, where appropriate, the Denver City Attorney’s Office. Victims of crime who believe they are eligible for U Visa consideration begin the process with the Denver Police Department. Representatives of the police department are responsible for reviewing the initial investigative report and, if they deem it appropriate, issuing the appropriate document, commonly referred to as an I-918 Supplement B Form. DPD representatives advise the District Attorney or City Attorney of any action taken, regardless of whether a case was filed. This procedure assures that all claimants receive the same review.
Denver District Attorney's Office