What’s going on with the Ryerson probe?
November 2, 2007
It has been more than four weeks since Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson was put on administrative leave in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, and the investigation by the city’s risk-management agency continues.
The city has been tight-lipped about the probe, and understandably so.
This is a highly sensitive issue, for many reasons. First, Ryerson has been a longtime community member, and has been actively involved in a number of causes. He’s an ambassador for the Aspen Skiing Co., and a junior hockey volunteer.
Ryerson has a wife and raised his children here. Make no mistake, the allegations are humiliating to the Ryerson family, and could ruin his career. If Ryerson loses his job, he also surrenders a six-figure salary and employee housing he bought for his family.
The city also cannot discuss the investigation because it is ongoing, and specifically because it is a personnel matter involving sexual harassment charges. However, once the investigation is concluded, the public should be made aware of its findings, especially because it relates to Ryerson’s fitness for duty.
And now we’re at four weeks without someone officially in charge at the Aspen Police Department, though Ryerson’s right-hand man, Richard Pryor, has been appointed interim police chief.
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While we understand the investigation must be thorough, especially since so much is at stake, we also should expect it to be swift.
For everyone involved, from the APD to the accusers to Ryerson’s family, this is an ugly chapter in Aspen government that needs to be closed with a fair resolution. Most troubling about this whole ordeal, however, is reports that sexual harassment allegations against Ryerson didn’t recently surface.
And, if this truly is not a new issue, we are left to wonder not only why this investigation is taking so long, but also why the complaints apparently were ignored in the first place.
One former female APD staffer said Ryerson sexually harassed her more than 10 years ago. While we won’t argue the merits of her claim here, what we can argue is that if these kinds of complaints have been ongoing, they should have been addressed immediately. That not only would have been a fair course of action for the accusers, but Ryerson as well.