In apparent contravention of the state public records statute, a Colorado police department and county district attorney have denied this reporter’s request for access to the documentation of the 2007 arrest of a local child sex offender and middle school teacher who previously had been a top official at USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Council advised me that the Woodland Park Police Department was mistaken in denying my request and referring it to the Teller County district attorney’s oiffice (which also denied my request). I have resubmitted to Woodland Park my application for the Colebank record.
The Colebank case and back story raise grave questions about the circumstances surrounding USA Swimming’s rumored dismissal of Colebank and failure to report to law enforcement and child protection authorities the actions which forced his departure.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s listing of Colebank in its registry of convicted sex offenders is at http://www.sor.state.co.us/?SOR=offender.detail&%20eml=&zip=&county=&category=MO&unincorperated=&city=&street=&fname=&lname=&sort=NAM&page=8&id=XX07708996. The listing shows that Colebank was convicted in 2008 of “promotion of obscenity to a minor,” and in 2009 of “sexual exploitation of a child.”
Though I have not been able to confirm Colebank’s USA Swimming title or term of tenure, swimming sources say he was the predecessor to Pat Hogan, the organization’s current managing director of club development.
Unconfirmed reports say Colebank was abruptly fired in the early 2000s. This reportedly followed an incident in which Colebank was said to have emailed a young male swimmer he had met at a USA Swimming camp. While emphasizing that I have not yet been able to locate the boy allegedly solicited by Colebank, one source states that the boy was 12 years old at the time and lived in Florida.
What is indisputable is that Colebank, after being fired by USA Swimming, became a technology teacher at Carmel Middle School in Colorado Springs, and then a convicted child sex offender.
On October 31, 2007, the Woodland Park police contacted the Harrison School District about allegations against Colebank, and he resigned. He was arrested five days later. The Denver Post‘s contemporaneous account, which did not note Colebank’s USA Swimming affiliation, is at http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_7386039.
USA Swimming does not respond to my inquiries. This post will be forwarded to executive director Chuck Wielgus and his staff, with a request that he provide further information on Colebank’s tenure at USA Swimming; what gave rise to his sudden departure; and whether the organization notified police or other agencies of possible knowledge of Colebank’s pedophilia.
A further very serious question about Colebank and USA Swimming is suggested by the already documented story of another staffer, Everett Uchiyama, who departed following a sexual misconduct allegation. Uchiyama benefited from a glowing reference by club development director Hogan when Uchiyama subsequently applied for a job at the nearby Country Club of Colorado, where he became aquatics director until being forced to resign after his earlier activities were exposed in 2010, following the airing of an investigative report by ABC’s 20/20 on the widespread sex abuse scandals in USA Swimming. See http://concussioninc.net/?p=5980.
I will follow up this post with whatever response I might receive from USA Swimming, as well as the response by Woodland Park police to my renewed public records request.
Attorney Steven Zansberg, a law firm partner of Colorado Freedom of Information Council president Thomas Kelley, told me that a “record of official action,” under Colorado’s Criminal Justice Records Act, “MUST be disclosed to the public; any records custodian who has possession, custody or control of such record is required to provide a copy of such ‘arrest record’ to any member of the public who has requested it. See Freedom Colorado Information, Inc. v. El Paso County Sheriff’s Dept., 196 P.3d 892 (Colo. 2008)”