Tough to miss the irony: After his arrest for allegedly trying to trade meth for sex with a male acquaintance, Pat Sullivan was incarcerated in the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility, the jail named for him after a distinguished law enforcement career capped by eighteen years as Arapahoe County sheriff. No one expected Sullivan to make such an ignominious return to the public eye -- not even the law enforcers who put him behind bars.
As noted by the Denver Post, Sullivan became an undersheriff in Arapahoe County way back in 1983, rising to the top job a year later. In 1989, he cemented his image as a man still willing to mix it up with the bad guys when he personally rescued a deputy trapped in a hostage situation involving Eugene Thompson, who'd murdered two women -- one of them his mother-in-law. The image of Sullivan squealing away from the scene as an ambulance waited to care for his colleague was indelible.
Ten years later, the attack on Columbine High School took place, and while the facility isn't in Arapahoe County, Sullivan played a major role in the subsequent investigation, emerging with his reputation further enhanced. No wonder that when the onetime national sheriff of the year retired from his post in 2002, he was quickly snapped up by the Cherry Creek School District, which made him director of safety and security -- a position he held for the next six years.
Since 2008, Sullivan, who's 68, has mostly been out of the public eye. But on November 17, according to the sheriff's department, "several individuals presented credible information that provided probable cause to believe that Sullivan may be involved in the distribution and use of methamphetamine."
The inquiry that followed culminated yesterday at about 4:15 p.m., when Sullivan was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to trade meth for sex with what's described as a "male acquaintance."
Current Sheriff Grayson Robinson offered the following comment about this bizarre turn of events: "The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing... While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office continues to ensure that those who are responsible for criminal behavior and the victimization of our community will be held accountable by the criminal justice system. No one, and particularly a current or a former peace officer, is above the law. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office has always demonstrated a solid commitment to our community and to public safety. This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and our community."
At a news conference yesterday, Robinson didn't add much to these comments. However, he did reveal that Sullivan has bonded several people out of several area detention centers over time. He added that this fact is part of the ongoing investigation.
Was Sullivan freeing men from jail that he hoped would become sex partners? That was the implication this morning on Peter Boyles's KHOW talk show. Two people identifying themselves as investigatory sources -- including a man who called himself Mark and said he was featured in "Head Games," a 2006 Alan Prendergast Westword cover story about mental illness among prisoners -- shared a series of incendiary claims. Sample some of them by listening to the 5 a.m. hour, accessible by clicking here.
No doubt we'll be hearing more assertions like these at 8 a.m., when embattled KHOW host Tom Martino and two investigators also working on the story are slated to appear with Boyles. Clearly, Sullivan, who was jailed on a whopping $250,000 bond, is back in the spotlight, and shockingly so.
Look below to see a pair of 9News reports -- the first focusing on the arrest, the second dating back to Sullivan's 2002 retirement as sheriff.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
More from our News archive: "Robert McIntosh wins $20,000 settlement after arrest for calling Boulder deputy a 'f*cking ass.'"