Private investigator, former Aspen police officer accused of abusing records |

Private investigator, former Aspen police officer accused of abusing records

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

A Roaring Fork Valley private investigator has been charged with a misdemeanor stemming from his involvement in a case involving child abuse or neglect, according to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

A complaint was filed Monday against James P. Crowley, 48, of Aspen, alleging the crime of “misuse of dependency and neglect records information.” Crowley, a former Aspen police investigator, is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 16.

Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan said that Crowley showed a record pertaining to a child-abuse case to a third party who wasn’t allowed to see it. That person was a minor, Bryan said Thursday.

“He was using his capacity as a defense investigator to do that,” Bryan said. “In particular, we’re alleging that he showed someone’s forensic interview (to the third party), and a forensic interview is very private and highly confidential.”

The interview was conducted at the River Bridge Regional Center, an accredited nonprofit child-advocacy center in Glenwood Springs that specializes in the prevention, assessment, treatment and investigation of child abuse.

The complaint alleges that Crowley committed the action sometime between Dec. 1 and Aug. 1.

No other details about the misdemeanor case against Crowley were available Thursday. Crowley declined to comment when reached by telephone.

He has made news in the recent past, having been fired by the Aspen Police Department in August 2008 when he allegedly showed up for work under the influence of alcohol. He had worked for the department for 18 years.

Crowley’s firing reportedly shook up the local law enforcement community because of the large number of Aspen police officers and Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies who had worked with him or knew him over the years. At the time, he was drawing a salary of about $70,000 annually.

Originally charged with driving while ability impaired and possession of a weapon under the influence, Crowley struck an agreement with prosecutors in November 2009, pleading guilty to reckless driving. Garfield County Judge Paul Metzger — who presided over his case after Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely recused herself — ordered Crowley, then 43, to take an alcohol-education class and pay $267.50 in fines and court costs.

Also, five months ago, Crowley testified in a high-profile homicide trial in Tucson, Arizona. A jury in April found former Aspen socialite Pamela Phillips, 56, guilty of first-degree murder in the 1996 car-bomb killing of her ex-husband, businessman Gary Triano.