Newspapers Reporting Rape of Local Colorado Police Chief's Stepson, Two Others Stolen from Nearly All Newspaper Stands on the Same Day

Ouray County Plaindealer
The report published by the Ouray County Plaindealer (left) and Ouray Police Chief Jeff Wood. Twitter

Almost all the copies of a small-town Colorado newspaper were stolen from newspaper racks on the same day the paper released a story about a sexual assault that took place at the local police chief's house during a late-night underage party in May 2023.

The Ouray County Plaindealer said the newspapers on all but one of their newspaper racks across Ridgway, Colorado were stolen, on Thursday.

'Someone Didn't Want the Community to Read the News'

"It's pretty clear that someone didn't want the community to read the news this week," the paper wrote. Owner and publisher Mike Wiggins promised to get to the bottom of the theft.

"Someone didn't like this edition of @ocplaindealer. (Guess which article.) So they stole nearly every newspaper out of our racks in Ouray County. If you hoped to silence or intimidate us, you failed miserably. We'll find out who did this. And another press run is imminent," Wiggins said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Rape Allegations were Against Police Chief's Stepson, Two Others

The front-page report that was featured in the stolen newspaper reported on allegations made by a 17-year-old that alleged she was raped multiple times during a party with Chief Jeff Wood's stepson, Nate Dieffenderffer, 18 and two other suspects at his home - Gabriel Trujillo, 20, and Ashton Whittington, 18.

Ashton Whittington, Gabriel Trujillo and Nathan Dieffenderffer
From left to right: Ashton Whittington, Gabriel Trujillo and Nathan Dieffenderffer Twitter

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the allegations. Since the case involves a minor, CBI said the arrest warrants have been sealed. However, despite being a minor at the time of the incident, the Plaindealer said they chose to name the chief's stepson "because of the severity of the allegations." The incident took place on May 14, 2023, and the stepson would have turned 18 a few days later, the Plaindealer reported.

According to the report, the victim told investigators that she screamed and fought back as people slept upstairs. The Plaindealer reported that the 17-year-old told investigators the party involved drugs, and drinking. She said she had gone in and out of consciousness and was raped at least three times by two different people in a bedroom and bathroom.

Man Busted for Stealing the Newspapers, Not a Member or Relative of Local Law Enforcement or Sexual Assault Suspects

On Friday, the Ouray County Sheriff's Office said a man had been cited for the theft of the newspapers. The Plaindealer reported that Paul Choate, 41, admitted to police that he stole more than 200 copies of the paper. Choate returned the newspapers to the publisher on Thursday evening, with an apology, the paper reported.

"The suspect is not a member or relative of local law enforcement and not associated with the defendants in the recent reported sexual assault," the sheriff's office said.