Mayor Pete Muldoon is exploring his legal options after the Teton County Sheriff’s Office released 2018 reports wherein a woman accused him of sexual assault.
“This was a false allegation, period,” Muldoon said. “I’ve contacted an attorney as I think the Sheriff’s Department has obviously and willfully violated my rights under state statute, and must be held accountable.”
The sheriff’s office, with the guidance of the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office, released two police reports last week where they redacted the name of the accuser but didn’t redact Muldoon’s name.
The name of the alleged suspect in a sex assault is supposed to remain confidential until probable cause is found for indictment, per Wyoming’s restricted disclosure law. (6-2-319)
Teton County Prosecuting Attorney Erin Weisman said because no charges were ever filed against Muldoon that his name is subject to release.
“The release of the name of an alleged actor is not released prior to the filing of an information or indictment,” Weisman said. “In this case, prosecution was declined, and at that point the records may be released.”
Attorney Bruce Moats (who occasionally represents the Jackson Hole Daily) said Weisman’s interpretation of the law is contrary to why the law exists.
“The idea was this was to protect those falsely accused,” Moats said. “I have a hard time wrapping my head around how that would change just when charges aren’t filed.”
Muldoon, who’s running for a Jackson Town Council seat, said the sheriff’s office should be investigated, because the state law says the release of a name prior to felony arraignment is a misdemeanor crime.
“Up until last week, the system worked as it should have,” Muldoon said. “An allegation was made, treated seriously, thoroughly investigated, and properly found to be untrue. I was asked whether I wanted to press charges against the person making a false report, and I declined as I was assured that in cases where the allegations were false, the law prohibited the release of information to the public — as it should.”
Sheriff Matt Carr said they treated the records request, which was filed by libertarian and political activist Gloria Courser, the same as every inquiry they receive.
“We get records requests on a regular basis,” he said, “and we send all of them to the county attorney for review. We handled this one like we would any other.”
Courser said she requested the case file because she had filed other requests regarding Muldoon's criminal record on lesser infractions. Once she received the report she thought the public should see it. Courser said she emailed it “to two people” and it spread from there, ending up in many inboxes, including one at the Jackson Hole News&Guide, sister publication to the Jackson Hole Daily. Courser and Muldoon have traded barbs on social media.
The reports that were released only included interviews with the alleged victim. The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations took it from there. The News&Guide submitted a request for the rest of the investigative file to the Wyoming Attorney General, with no response.
But Weisman confirmed the case was closed without criminal finding.
“In early January 2019, DCI brought its investigative report to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan,” Weisman said. “As part of Mr. Allan’s review process in determining whether or not to file criminal charges, Mr. Allan discussed the investigation report with the DCI agent and with the alleged victim. The DCI agent concluded that the evidence did not support probable cause, and it was the opinion of the DCI agent that no crime had occurred. Based upon Mr. Allan’s analysis and the conclusion of the DCI investigation, Mr. Allan declined prosecution. Therefore, no charges were filed.”
Muldoon said there’s no logic behind the county attorney and police releasing his name after they didn’t find a crime had occurred.
“This explanation is ludicrous,” he said. “I read the statute and it says nothing of the sort. This is the sheriff’s department making crap up to cover for the fact that they broke the law.”
Muldoon feels he was unfairly targeted by Courser and police because of his support for local mask mandates and his probing of the Jackson Police Department budget.
“I’m not easily intimidated, and I’m going to continue to do my job of protecting public health and overseeing the police budget,” he said.
Moats, meanwhile, remained troubled about the reason for not redacting the mayor’s name.
“I have never heard that once a prosecutorial decision is made to not prosecute that it brings it out from underneath the law,” Moats said. “If it is used depending on who the accused is ... that concerns me.”
The headline on this article has been updated to be more clear and specific. — Eds.