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Deborah Sherman's departure from 9News powers up the rumor mill

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Yesterday, Patti Dennis, news director at 9News, sent an e-mail to staff informing them that correspondent Deborah Sherman, who'd been at the station for nearly a decade, was no longer an employee -- and assistant news director Tim Ryan declines to add details. This dearth of info is leading to speculation about her departure and whether it was connected to her reporting about accusations earlier this year linking Mayor Michael Hancock to paid escorts.

Back in June, Complete Colorado published an article tying Hancock, then in the midst of his mayoral campaign. to the Denver Players prostitution ring that spelled doom for Judge Edward Nottingham. Included in the piece was a log sheet that listed a "John" referred to as "Mike Handcock," a payment amount of $275, the notation "Wrks4City" and his cell-phone number. Hancock, who was previously a Denver city councilman, denied any wrongdoing, with his campaign calling such allegations smears.

The story eventually faded away -- but it's gotten a boost this week thanks to numerous appearances on Peter Boyles's KHOW talk show by Scottie Ewing, a former principal in Denver Players who eventually identified himself as the source of the information and document.

What's that got to do with Sherman? She's the journalist who first tied Denver Players to Judge Nottingham back in 2008. And this past June, Ewing told us she had been looking at his records since the previous November. Moreover, she was still covering the beat as recently as November 7, when she reported about Denver Players madam Brenda Stewart's sentencing for 9News.

Unsurprisingly, Sherman's fate prompted a conspiracy theory on Boyles's program this morning -- the suggestion being that she was disappeared for continuing to push the Hancock story. And that's not the only wild rumor circulating right now.

Sherman -- who had also filed suit again Dr. Louis Hampers, a doctor who admitted to writing hundreds of bogus prescriptions -- has always been a lightning rod for controversy. And that remains true even though her association with 9News has ended.

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