Basalt woman’s alleged tales spark perjury charge

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A probe by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has led to the arrest of a Basalt woman on allegations that she falsely accused a Basalt police officer of pointing a gun at her head and made up numerous stories to authorities, including one that her ex-husband raped her.

Maria Magdalena Rivas, 38, appeared Thursday in Pitkin County District Court, where, via conference call, District Judge James Boyd advised her that prosecutors plan to file a felony charge of first-degree perjury and a misdemeanor count of false reporting to authorities.

The perjury charge stems from Rivas allegedly lying under oath that her motion for a civil-protection order against Basalt Police Sgt. Stu Curry “is true and correct.”

The false-reporting charge is connected to Rivas’ call to police that her home had been broken into on Aug. 22. Prior to that complaint, Rivas had made several other false reports to authorities, CBI agent Brooks Bennett wrote.

The judge set bond at $6,000 for Rivas, who goes by two other aliases. Also pending against Rivas is a deportation case in Denver, prosecutor Arnold Mordkin said.

CBI agent Brooks Bennett, in a 14-page affidavit for an arrest warrant, said that based on interviews with family members, Basalt police officers and others, Rivas retaliated against Curry because he had played a role in the state Department of Human Services taking custody of her children this summer.

Human Services intervened after Rivas had complained to authorities on at least two occasions that her two younger children had been abused once by their baby sitter and another time by their 15-year-old brother, the affidavit says.

When police investigated Rivas’ claims that her 15-year-old son had used an iron to burn the two younger children, they became suspicious of her because she reported the abuse a day after the fact, according to the affidavit.

Bennett wrote, “Sgt. Curry told me he confronted Rivas about her knowledge of the burns and told her he believed it was impossible that she didn’t hear her young son crying after he was burned with the iron. Rivas maintained she wasn’t aware of the burns until the next day.”

A few days later, authorities obtained a court order to take custody of Rivas’ children.

“Rivas was upset and crying but didn’t portray any anger toward Sgt. Curry,” the affidavit says.

Later in the summer, on July 25, Rivas contacted Basalt police to report that her ex-husband had sexually assaulted her. Curry, after interviewing Rivas, told her he did not believe her, based on inconsistencies in her story. Additionally, the ex-husband had a credible alibi that he was in Eagle at the time she alleged that she was raped.

In the meantime, on Aug. 27, Rivas had applied for a protection order against Curry, claiming that he used obscene words against her at Taqueria El Nopal restaurant July 22 (three days before she claimed her husband raped her), pointed a gun at her head July 26 and followed her home Aug. 9.

Bennett’s affidavit, however, says that Curry and others were able to account for the three days in question. Credit-card receipts and police records also supported Curry’s alibis, Bennett wrote.

• July 22 – Curry, his wife and a friend had dined in Grand Junction at the time Rivas claims he used obscene words toward her.

• July 26 – Curry was at home watching a movie with his wife at home during the time Rivas alleged that he pointed a gun at her head.

• Aug. 9 – Curry did not leave home that night, as his mother was in town visiting him and his wife.

Curry, in an interview with Bennett, “emphatically stated that everything Rivas is alleging is a complete fabrication and (Curry) believes her motive is to get back at him for ‘having a hand in her children being taken away,'” Bennett wrote.

Additionally, a roommate of Rivas’ allegedly told Bennett that “Rivas tried to get her to lie about being a witness to seeing Sgt. Curry point a gun at Rivas’ head and stated numerous times Rivas is trying to think of ways to get Sgt. Curry in trouble,” the affidavit says.

Curry kept his supervisor at the time, Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor, apprised of the situation. O’Connor also was interviewed by Bennett and told the CBI agent that once he learned of the allegations, he prepared a summary document that listed all of the contacts the department had with Rivas.

O’Connor is on administrative leave from the department on unrelated matters.