Pressing the Flesh

Poor Ken Calhoun. The former Denver Post vice president of marketing, known as "Ken4Boys" in Internet chat rooms, didn't so much as get his Bermudas unzipped for that "hot oil massage" he'd talked about with a supposed teenage boy he had planned to meet on a Florida vacation. But within two days of a Miami TV station airing the story on how it had caught the Post newspaper executive in the Web of the station's own pedophilia sting, Calhoun was out of a job.

David Algeo, whose upcoming arraignment on a felony charge of sexual assault on a child is detailed in this issue, has fared much better. He's still employed at the Post, still writing for the business section. But then, he's a reporter, not an executive. He wasn't embarrassingly exposed on TV--not right away, at least. (Channel 4 has since run a piece on Algeo's arrest.) And, perhaps most significantly, he's charged not with having fantasy sex with a fantasy boy, but real sex with a fourteen-year-old girl, after which he took her to dinner at Taco Bell.

Reading through the Arvada Police Department's lengthy affidavit on the case is enough to make you want to take a shower.

So far, though, the Post hasn't washed its hands of Algeo. And, in fact, there's no rule book for how to deal with media types when they get caught up in the kind of situations media outlets often cover. Besides, there've been so dang many of them this year. Not just the usual DUIs and other traffic offenses. Or the garden-variety, greed-inspired felonies--fudged time sheets--that former Channel 7 TV sportscaster and Denver Bronco Mike Haffner pleaded guilty to earlier this year in exchange for a two-year deferred judgment and $14,000 restitution.

No, it's the sex offenses that make for sexy stories when other people allegedly commit them. For example, on June 4, the Rocky Mountain News reported that an Alabama man had been sentenced to three years' probation for setting up a sexual encounter with an individual he believed to be a fourteen-year-old girl, whom he'd met on the Internet when she responded to the ad he'd placed on a news group for "Colorado Bad Girl in Need of Spanking." In fact, he had been chatting online with an investigator from the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, and when the Alabama man met his new pal at a local restaurant, it turned out to be not a young she, but a grownup he representing the Jeffco DA.

The News has yet to report on the arrest of Algeo--who, according to the Arvada police affidavit, initially told the fourteen-year-old girl that he was a News reporter. But then, the Post hasn't reported on it, either.

And the News has its own Colorado Bad Boy to worry about. The day after Algeo's arraignment in Jeffco, News columnist Bill Johnson is scheduled to go on trial in Boulder County in connection with an alleged domestic-violence incident last December involving his ex-wife. That was shortly after Johnson had taken a break from his barside reporting to write about Boulder County's two battered-women's shelters, lauding a new hotline for men for "reaching out to perpetrators long before the police, perhaps an ambulance, and the criminal justice system has to be called in." Although those shelters had fielded 120,000 crisis calls the year before alone, Johnson pointed out that the county had logged only 926 arrests for misdemeanor domestic assault during the same time.

It was about to net one more: Johnson himself, who was charged with third-degree assault and child abuse (his children were present during an argument with his ex-wife that reportedly turned violent). "Anyone can make hay of an accusation against you," says Johnson, who denies the charges and has rejected any plea bargain. "I'm just not going to roll over. If I do, it will never stop."

Since the News ran an article on the charges against Johnson in January, it's been silent on the topic--and Johnson has stayed away from stories on shelters.

Domestic violence--the subject of a special series in Westword last month and the focus of a convention in town this week marking the twentieth anniversary of the Denver-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence--touches people in all walks of life...and leaves fingerprints all over the media. Greg Todd, editor and publisher of the Boulder Planet, was sentenced to two years' probation last month after he pled guilty to misdemeanor harassment in Boulder County Court; he'd been arrested in April after a fight with his girlfriend outside the newspaper's office. Todd took a deal that dropped a third-degree assault charge but also called for evaluation for possible anger-management classes, a requirement in almost all domestic-violence cases.

And then there's Keith Weinman, business "editor" at KOA radio and Channel 4 business reporter, who was arrested and charged with third-degree assault last August after employees of a Longmont auto dealership reported that he was stalking his wife ("Once Upon a Mattress," August 21, 1997). But Weinman barely missed a beat in his lucrative pitching of mattress companies; he ultimately pled guilty to misdemeanor harassment and disorderly conduct. He, too, got a two-year deferred sentence--and the order to continue with an anger-management counseling program.

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