COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - El Paso County confirms that an investigation has been launched after a complaint was filed against Sheriff Terry Maketa.
The county says that it received a workforce complaint on May 12, 2014.
The board of county commissioners scheduled a conference with the county attorney the next day and Sheriff Maketa was formally notified in a letter from the entire board on May 16, 2014.
In the letter, Maketa was notified that a complaint had been filed and that an investigation would be launched immediately.
The letter also mentions May 13, 2014 media reports that the employees who filed the complaints have been placed on administrative leave for violating sheriff's office policies. On May 14, 2014, KRDO NewsChannel 13 reported that three Sheriff's Office commanders were put on paid administrative leave.
On Friday, May 23, 2014, The Colorado Springs Gazette broke the news about the complaint that had been filed against Maketa.
The Gazette article, written by reporter Dave Philipps, says that three department commanders submitted a complaint about Maketa's conduct to El Paso County commissioners on May 12, 2014.
The complaint filed by Commanders Rodney Gehrett, Mitchel Lincoln and Robert King alleges that Maketa had a sexual relationship with three subordinates, according to The Gazette. The commanders claim that those subordinates are Undersheriff Paula Presley, comptroller Dorene Cardarelle and head of training for dispatchers, Tiffany Huntz.
The women have denied having a sexual relationship with Maketa.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office provided the following statement to KRDO NewsChannel 13 in response to The Gazette's report.
"At this time, upon the advice of legal counsel, Sheriff Terry Maketa has no comment. An independent outside investigator is conducting the investigation and the Sheriff plans to fully cooperate in every way, both legally and with the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, then any comments or statements will be forthcoming."
KRDO NewsChannel 13's Emily Allen has also been investigating this story. She filed a Colorado Open Records Act request with the sheriff's office.
The complaint was filed with the equal employment opportunity commission, or EEOC. EEOC complaints are confidential under federal law.
The sheriff's office responded to KRDO's request by saying quote "While the confidentiality rules bind only the EEOC, the Sheriff's Office, as a participant, will also adhere to them."
The law firm of Sherman and Howard has been retained by the board of county commissioners.
The commissioners also directed the county attorney's office to retain separate outside legal counsel to act as counsel for the sheriff's office. "We want everyone to understand that the Commissioners are extremely concerned about these allegations and are committed to a thorough and independent investigation of these complaints in full compliance with all applicable laws," said Commissioner Amy Lathen. "While we find it troubling to allocate taxpayer resources for these investigations and possible litigation, we recognize the need to find the truth for all people involved and are obligated under state law to defend the county and its elected officials," Lathen said.
El Paso County says commissioners and county administrators were aware of rumors and speculation about problems inside the sheriff's office several years ago, but that no action was taken because no formal complaints were filed.
The Gazette reported late Friday that the FBI has apparently joined the investigation. The newspaper received a request from the FBI for financial documents related to the sheriff.