AURORA | The partner of ousted Aurora police chief Vanessa Wilson is accused of fabricating a report that claimed Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky sexually abused her toddler son, according to an arrest affidavit.
Robin Niceta, 40, faces charges of retaliation against an elected official, a sixth-degree felony, and making a false report of child abuse as a mandatory reporter, a second-degree misdemeanor. Police say Niceta worked in the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services at the time she made the false report.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said Niceta was booked Monday at the Arapahoe County Jail and released in lieu of a $4,000 bond.
Jurinsky said she believes the false accusations were made in retaliation for criticism of Wilson. She emerged as one of Wilson’s most outspoken critics before the chief was fired by City Manager Jim Twombly in April.
The story was first reported by the KCNC TV 4 News.
The affidavit, signed by an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, says Niceta called the Department of Human Services anonymously to report that Jurinsky had abused her son in the presence of her employees.
The call was placed on Jan. 28, the day after Jurinsky appeared on KNUS host Steffan Tubbs’ talk-radio show and criticized Wilson’s leadership, referring to Wilson as “trash.”
Investigators with the department later determined that the allegations against Jurinsky were unfounded, and law enforcement concluded that Niceta placed the call after finding that her number matched the number of the anonymous caller and in light of forensic analysis of Niceta’s cell phone and county-issued laptop.
Among other pieces of evidence, roughly four minutes before the call was placed, Niceta allegedly used the search engine Bing on her county laptop to look up “does the child abuse hotline keep phone numbers in colorado,” according to the affidavit.
A few hours after the call was placed — too soon for her to have known about the report through normal departmental channels, an attorney for the county told law enforcement — Niceta also referenced the complaint in a text message from her phone.
Niceta repeatedly denied having made the call but told law enforcement information that conflicted with the evidence recovered from her electronic devices.
Niceta said Wilson and her two children also had access to her phone, though she said her children would not have called. When pressed about who could have called, Niceta said “it wasn’t me,” the affidavit said.
The supposedly anonymous caller said Jurinsky had fondled her son’s genitals in restaurants she owned and during a holiday party for employees. Jurinsky told investigators the places where the alleged abuse took place weren’t open at the time, and the holiday party never took place. Witnesses and employees corroborated that the allegations never happened.
Suzanne Taheri, a lawyer representing Jurinsky, scheduled a press conference at 3 p.m. at CentrePoint Plaza in Aurora, where the county department is located.
Taheri said that one of the first questions Jurinsky asked her was whether similar incidents had happened to others. Teheri said the department’s “culture” needed to be examined.
In a statement, county spokesman Luc Hatlestad said the county has “zero tolerance for this type of behavior, which undermines the critical work of our team.”
“Upon receiving an allegation of false reporting by an employee, we immediately engaged law enforcement and conducted an internal investigation,” he said. “It would be inappropriate to provide any further comment on this personnel matter.”
Hatlestad also forwarded a May 4 email from Niceta in which she announced her immediate resignation but did not offer an explanation for her decision.
At the Monday news conference, Jurinsky said she believed Niceta should have been fired, rather than allowed to resign.
Lara Baker, an attorney representing Niceta, said in a statement, “We trust the judicial system to give Ms. Niceta her day in court, and we will leave politics to the politicians.”
It’s unclear whether Wilson knew about the allegations her partner made and when. Jurinsky said she believed that if Wilson knew, she should also be prosecuted.
An attorney for Wilson was not immediately available for comment.