BERTHOUD, Colo. - Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson has resigned, adding to the fallout from a criminal investigation of an officer fired after allegedly confessing to abusing a 15-year-old girl.
Johnson and the officer, Jeremy Yachik, were placed on administrative leave in October after Berthoud officials learned that Larimer County prosecutors and the Loveland Police Department were conducting a criminal investigation of Yachik.
Yachik was arrested on Oct. 23, on a warrant charging him with four counts of child abuse resulting in injury and one count of false imprisonment, all misdemeanor charges, according to police records. Yachik has pleaded not guilty.
Allegations of misconduct in the police department were quietly raised in September when Yachik's former fiancée told Loveland police that she'd sent Chief Johnson a videotape showing Yachik assaulting the 15-year-old girl. She said Johnson failed to respond.
In a Wednesday statement, town officials said on Monday they'd received and accepted Johnson's resignation.
"In light of the continuing internal review of operations of the police department under Chief Johnson’s command, he expressed his desire to step aside in order to allow the Town to move forward based upon its evaluation of whatever recommendations come out of the review," the town statement said. "Although Chief Johnson was placed on administrative leave pending a criminal investigation by the Loveland Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of investigation, no charges have been brought against him as of this time."
At the request of town administrators, Larimer County Sheriff's Sgt. John Feyen was appointed acting Berthoud police chief in October. Also at the town's request, the sheriff's office is conducting an internal affairs investigation into how the Berthoud Police Department -- and Johnson -- handled accusations of police misconduct.
Feyen will continue to serve as chief "until the Town completes its review of the audit of its police department and determines what changes, if any, are warranted," the statement said. "The Town appreciates the patience of its residents during this process, and is grateful to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department for its support and services during this period."
The police scandal began simmering on Sept. 25 when Loveland police learned that Yachik's former fiancée, Ashley Saint-Roberts, had sent the child abuse video to several news organizations and police agencies, according to Yachik's arrest affidavit. Saint-Roberts said Yachik had abused her and the teen girl for years.
Saint-Roberts said she began going public with the video after she sent it to Yachik's boss, Chief Johnson, and he did nothing. However, Saint-Roberts said Yachik did call her and said, "Nice try…trying to get me fired…it's not going to work," according to the affidavit.
The ex-fiancée said Yachik deleted the video from her cellphone. Saint-Roberts said Yachik told her he was mad that she recorded the video, warning that "he could lose his job as a Police Officer for something like that," the affidavit stated.
According to court records, the 15-year-old girl told Loveland police investigators that Yachik had abused her almost daily for years. The abuse allegedly included restraining her hands with handcuffs or plastic zip ties and then slamming her head into a wall hard enough to leave a hole and choking her until she blacked out, according to a Loveland police arrest affidavit. He also beat her with ropes, restricted her food, shackled her in a darkened room for hours and force-fed her "ghost pepper sauce" that's roughly 10 times hotter than habanero peppers.
During a voluntary Sept. 27 interview with Loveland investigators, Yachik, who is 5-feet-11-inches tall and weighs 270 pounds, admitted doing many of these things to the girl, the affidavit said. The officer also confirmed he was the man shown in the video abusing the teen in July 2012.
Asked why he did these things, Yachik told investigators the teen "won't communicate" with him, the affidavit said. He didn't cite anything the girl had done to warrant these punishments, police wrote in the affidavit.
During a search of Yachik's Loveland home, investigators say they found evidence of child abuse, including repaired drywall damage near a fireplace where the 15-year-old victim said Yachik slammed her head.
During a search of the Berthoud police chief's office, Loveland police said, "evidence was collected that corroborated Ashley's account of attempting to report this incident to Chief Johnson," the affidavit stated.
The teen victim told investigators that Yachik routinely physically forced her to eat ghost pepper sauce when he accused her of lying. The girl said at times her mouth and stomach burned from the indigestion the hot sauce caused, "even causing her to vomit on one occasion," the affidavit said.
Between July 1, 2012 and Oct. 2, 2012, the girl described being choked around the neck repeatedly by Yachik. She described at least one choking incident when she felt dizzy, suffered blurred vision and eventually blacked out, the affidavit said. She recalled waking up on the floor, feeling dizzy and confused.