Buffalo Exchange's corporate leadership in Arizona is considering severing ties with the three Colorado franchise stores in the wake of allegations that over the past twenty years, co-owner Todd Colletti sexually assaulted and physically assaulted employees, threw cocaine-fueled parties where minors were given booze and drugs, stole money from the company and verbally abused staff.
"The recent revelations about a franchisee in Colorado are beyond disturbing and abhorrent," according to a July 29 statement issued by Buffalo Exchange corporate's office. "We are grateful and encouraged that the Denver Police Department is speaking to victims and opening an investigation into these very serious allegations.
"Right now, we are working to determine exactly what actions the Colorado ownership team that licenses our brand will be taking against Todd Colletti," the statement continues. "At the same time, we are working with our legal team to assess our options in regard to this franchisee and its status under our brand. To be clear, we want to ensure that the individual or individuals responsible for these acts are not associated with the franchise or our brand in any way going forward."
While Buffalo Exchange Colorado noted on its Facebook page that the co-owners of the Colorado stores would be cutting ties with Colletti and that he would no longer be welcome in the stores, many of his accusers are pointing the finger at those same owners, as well as shop managers, employees and Colletti's friends, saying they looked the other way for two decades as he preyed on employees and others in the scene.
"Todd will be Todd" was the mantra that his co-workers and friends used to excuse his predatory behavior, according to accusers.
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Survivors tell Westword they remained silent for years, fearful that people would hate them if they shared their stories. Colletti, after all, has a larger-than-life reputation earned after he positioned himself as a philanthropist and became a prominent member of Denver's small-business and art scene, throwing fundraisers and supporting charitable causes.
All those do-gooder gestures ring hollow to accusers, who believe they were used to cover a culture of misogyny, drug abuse and sexual violence.
The Sex Crimes Unit of the Denver Police Department is investigating claims against Colletti and asking people with information to contact the unit at 720-913-2000, though several survivors have expressed their hesitation to work with the DPD during this time when distrust of law enforcement is high.
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Meanwhile, the still-anonymous administrators of the Instagram account Buffalo in the Room, which included dozens of accusatory posts shortly after it went live this past weekend, have given the corporate office a list of demands:
While nothing will ever undo the damage that has been done to these victims of Todd's abuse, we must move forward to begin the long and ongoing process of healing:
-Access to free counseling/therapy
-A clear statement that Todd's permanent removal also denies him from receiving benefits or pay from the company
-Complete and transparent company reformation
-Methods of Accountability
-Reliable and trustworthy HR
-Statement from Todd
-Statement from corporate
For now, the company has pledged to take action...even as it works on exactly what the specifics of that action might be.
"To the current and former employees of Buffalo Exchange Colorado who experienced abusive behavior or harassment: Our hearts are with all of you," the corporate statement continues. "We will listen to each and every one of you, and we commit to full transparency, fierce advocacy, and substantive action."