El Paso County Commissioners ask Sheriff Terry Maketa to resign amid misconduct allegations

Missing teen's parents blast sheriff, deputy

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - El Paso County Commissioners asked long-time Sheriff Terry Maketa to resign Thursday.

The board took a no confidence vote on Maketa and the vote was unanimous.

In a letter to the Sheriff, the Commissioners wrote, "there is a disruption to the smooth and efficient administration and functions of the Office of the Sheriff. The Board believes Sheriff Maketa has lost the ability to appropriately lead the Office of the Sheriff."

However, despite the vote, the commissioners have no power to remove Maketa from office because he is an elected official. Maketa refused to put himself on unpaid administrative leave or resign after County Commissioner Peggy Littleton asked him to step down Tuesday morning.

Maketa is facing accusations of sex with subordinates, abusive treatment of employees and dismantling oversight of the office budget.

The Colorado Springs Gazette first reported that Maketa allegedly had sexual relationships with three female subordinates for years, traveling with them using public funds, promoting them to top jobs despite objections from commanders and threatening anyone he suspected of mentioning the relationships.

The newspaper said the allegations come from a seven-page complaint by three of his commanders that rebukes Maketa's term in office, accusing him of repeated sexual impropriety, discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, violating the civil rights of those who work in the Sheriff's Office, using intimidation to keep people quiet about his misdeeds and removing almost all oversight of the $60 million Sheriff's Office annual budget.

Maketa and the three women denied the allegations.

Maketa has been in the news in the past two years for his opposition to new gun control laws in Colorado and his criticism of the Black Forest Fire Department chief's handling of the Black Forest wildfire.

Maketa was elected sheriff of El Paso County in 2002. He has since been re-elected twice. Due to term limits, he will be replaced in the November election.

-- Scandal Has Missing Teen's Family Worried About Justice --

As Maketa fights off sexual corruption charges, he suddenly released an audio recording to discredit one of his prime accusers -- Deputy Cliff Porter.

In the recording of a departmental meeting obtained by 7NEWS, Porter suggests he may have cut corners while filling out a report on the high-profile disappearance of Kara Nichols. The aspiring 19-year-old model vanished on October 9, 2012 while traveling from Colorado Springs to Denver for a photo shoot.

"I apologize. It's not going to be as good as if I had, you know, done it when, when all that stuff had happened," Porter says on the recording as he describes a delay in completing his report on the Nichols' case.

"Maybe somebody would finally just say, 'Look, this is a cold case, this girl is probably dead. We're going to work the leads, but we're going to shelve this thing and we won't overact every time Mr. Nichols comes in,'" Porter says on the recording.

The behind-the-scenes conversations have the Nichols family furious and frustrated.

"It's unbelievable to hear such comments from a trusted law enforcement officer," Kara’s mother, Julia Nichols, told 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart. "It's really sad to think, that my daughter is still missing and these were the people in charge of her case."

"We find it very disturbing to learn about misconduct by Sheriff Maketa and some of his staff, which apparently has been going on for years," Julia and her husband, Paul Nichols, added in a statement issued late Thursday.

"We trusted the El Paso County Sheriff's Department to investigate and solve our daughter's missing person case. With the amount of misappropriation of resources, lack of effective supervision, and general malaise, it is no surprise that in the crucial initial weeks after Kara's disappearance, the case was not properly investigated. Tips and leads went unnoticed, no forensic investigation was performed, and phone records made available immediately were not investigated for months," the couple said.

The parents is also blasting Porter, saying: "The fact that Deputy Porter has the gall to use our daughter's case as a way to cover his own ineptitude is infuriating. Deputy Porter was initially assigned my daughter's case, and from the start he made assumptions that she was deceased. He obfuscated and avoided taking our calls, and gave us advice such as to not bother posting flyers or talking to the media. After months of excuses, the case was reassigned to a more competent and dedicated officer. But as everyone knows in missing person’s cases, the first days and weeks are crucial. Unfortunately, by the time the case was reassigned, many leads had gone cold."

An El Paso County man is supporting the Nichols family's call for Deputy Porter's firing by posting a petition on Change.org "Requesting the Immediate Termination of Deputy Cliff Porter."

7NEWS has made a request to speak with Sheriff Maketa, but it has not yet been granted.

Porter was removed from his post as detective and shifted to deputy duties.

A sheriff's spokesperson says the Nichols case is "actively being worked."

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