Months have passed since dozens of people posted on the Buffalo in the Room Instagram account, accusing Buffalo Exchange Colorado founder and co-owner Patrick Todd Colletti of various misdeeds ranging from rape and sexual harassment to drugging minors. The allegations stretched back over the twenty-some years that Colletti ran the resale fashion franchise he'd founded in the ’90s.
After the accusations went public, his co-owners quickly severed ties with Colletti. Buffalo Exchange Corporate separated itself from the disgraced Colorado company and the local stores were closed, leaving already traumatized workers without jobs. One employee died by suicide amid the scandal. Many commenters demanded that Colletti go to jail, and the Denver Police Department launched a criminal investigation.
Yet Colletti has not been arrested, and after reviewing the findings of the DPD's Sexual Assault Unit, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann's office will not be charging him.
"I can now confirm that we refused this case because we did not believe we could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury," said Carolyn Tyler, communications director for the DA, in an email. The office declined to comment further on the investigation.
The DPD's Sexual Assault Unit pursued the case for months, but had trouble persuading accusers to come forward. Several former employees who told Westword that they'd been raped by Colletti said that they would not speak with the police because they doubted that the criminal justice system would take their accusations seriously. They also said they feared being re-traumatized if they shared their experiences with law enforcement and in court.
Others said they were hesitant to interact with a police department in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, and after the DPD's response to racial-justice protests.
Still, the door remains open at the DPD. "There was not an arrest and the case is closed, but it can be reopened should evidence be made available," according to a Denver police spokesperson.
In the months since the accusations surfaced, Colletti's former co-owners opened another store, Forgotten Works, in the former Buffalo Exchange shop at 51 Broadway. In January, a branch of the Omaha-based resale shop Scout will move into the space, with the backing of the former co-owners.
Scout founder Kelley Valentine says she's prioritizing hiring former Buffalo Exchange employees and trying to help heal the community.
"It’s a new owner, an absolutely new culture, and we’re going to have absolutely zero tolerance for sexual harassment and those things that happened prior," Valentine explains. "I want this to get back to being a safe space. I think this community needs healing, and local art will be a part of that."
And in the meantime, Colletti — who has never responded to Westword's requests for comment — walks free.
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