ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan confessed he “may very well have” had sex with underage boys and that he intentionally used the ‘date rape’ drug GHB to incapacitate a male sex partner.
“I’m sorry for so many things I’ve done … I am incredibly ashamed,” said Sullivan during a wide-ranging, three-hour police interrogation conducted November 29, 2011 at the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. That interrogation occurred shortly after he was arrested in a sting operation that caught him attempting to trade methamphetamine for sex with a male acquaintance.
CBS4 obtained the confession tape earlier this month.
Sullivan confesses to taking sexual advantage of a 34-year old friend who has cognitive brain disorder by knocking the man out with GHB then having sexual contact. But the 69-year-old former sheriff was never charged with sexually assaulting minors or sexually assaulting an at-risk adult, which Sullivan confesses to in the interview.
“I was negligent in my responsibility to myself, my family my profession. And I’m gonna pay the price for it,” says Sullivan, under questioning from two Arapahoe County investigators who he hired when he was sheriff, Jeff Himes and Matt Hanagan.
“I apologize to you and I apologize to a lot of people,” says Sullivan as he looks across the table at his interrogators.
Following his November 29, 2011 arrest, Sullivan was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, attempting to influence a public servant and misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution.
Four months later, on April 3, Sullivan pleaded guilty to one count of felony methamphetamine possession and a misdemeanor prostitution charge and was sentenced to 38 days in jail. He was released last Saturday.
But he was never charged with any sex- related felonies despite the confession obtained by CBS4.
“So obviously a rough day for everybody,” says Agent Hanagan as the interview begins just after 5 p.m.
“I have a lot of respect for you… you hired me,” he says to Sullivan, as the three men sit around a table in the sparse interview room. “So I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I just really appreciate the opportunity and I think Jeff feels the same.”
Sullivan responds by saying, “Well you know … it’s my own (expletive) fault probably, but I’m here because I’m… spent a career building organizations that help people.”
Sullivan indicates he has a granddaughter with a 6 p.m. volleyball game, so he tells his interrogators that he hopes they will be done with him soon.
For the next hour, the investigators trade small talk with Sullivan, chatting about his career and accomplishments and how he became involved in the drug trade.
“Right, you were my old sheriff though. You were the head in command of a 500 person, sworn-deputy agency… but, I mean is that not weird if you are me?” asks Hanagan, commenting on sitting across the table interrogating his old boss.
Sullivan initially seems evasive, changing the subject, sidestepping questions and providing half truths.
“This is a hard conversation to have with you,” offers Hanagan,” Because… I don’t know how you got to where you’re at today . I know you’re a man I had a lot of respect for,” says Hanagan.
Sullivan interrupts, “Do you have less respect for me now?”
“I’m just not sure what’s going on, Pat,” responds Hanagan. “You hired me. You put a badge on me, and you told me to go out and do my job to the best of my ability. And today I did that job to the best of my ability. And unfortunately what I got is you bringing drugs to the house.”
Sullivan initially denies any criminal behavior but Hanagan ratchets up the pressure, revealing that the sting at an Aurora home that afternoon was recorded, “We have video in that room. We have audio in that room. We have people watching you pull up. I watched you hand dope to (the informant) from another room.”
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“Pat, did you go pick up some dope today?” queries the agent.
“I could have,” responds Sullivan.
“And you think we could have been there?” replies Hanagan. “Pat you picked up dope today. Because we watched you pick up dope today.”
“Okay, I picked it up today,” confesses Sullivan.
From there, Sullivan begins to detail a hidden life of methamphetamine use merged with what he says is a bisexual lifestyle.
“I smoked the pipe from time to time, socially. It’s not something I smoke at home or have to have,” admits Sullivan, who said he never injected meth, only smoked it. He tells the men he is bisexual, not gay.
“I’ve had sex with a lot of guys in Denver…” said the former lawman.
“Did you ever smoke meth while you were sheriff here?” asks one of the interrogators.
“No,” responds Sullivan. “… Again, I don’t know exactly when I started. I can’t tell you the first time I smoked any. And may have smoked if somebody said well try it. So I may have tried it.”
“How does Pat Sullivan get involved in meth, smoking it?” he is asked.
“As one proud professional to another, fell off the wagon or something,” responds Sullivan, trailing off.
Much of the interview is spent pressing Sullivan about suspected sexual encounters with minors and an at-risk adult.
“There were times you did take advantage of (the at risk adult) sexually. Tell me I’m wrong. When you guys were in your drug induced- when you guys were on drugs you would engage him sexually, am I wrong? That’s true isnt it?,” asks Investigator Jeff Himes.
“Yes,” replies Sullivan.
“You know that (the at-risk adult) has cognitive brain disorder… you took advantage of him sexually, am I right?” presses Himes.
“Yes,” said Sulllivan.
“And knocking him out with GHB and taking advantage of him sexually, am I wrong about that?”
“No,” says Sullivan, who says he doesn’t recall precisely where and when those events took place and exactly what he did.
“Well, I want to admit everything I’m guilty of. But there may have been some cases where I may well have done them and can’t remember,” says Sullivan.
“Do you agree you’ve committed the crime of sex assault on an at-risk adult?” asks Himes.
“Yes,” responds Sullivan.
“Did he even know he was being taken advantage of?”
“I can’t answer that. You’d have to ask him,” replies Sullivan, who says he probably took advantage of the man four or five times.
The investigators spend much of the interview asking Sullivan about potential sexual liaisons with minors.
“Okay to my knowledge,” says Sullivan, “I was careful not to do have anything sexually with an under… or drug or alcohol underage,” says Sullivan.
“But,” asks Himes, “there was the couple of times you made the mistake?”
“May well have. I’ll grant you that may well have,” responds the former sheriff. “ If I did I did not do it knowingly and sober… What I’m saying is I might have been under the influence and did it. I’ll grant you that. That could very well have happened.”
Himes stays on the topic. ”I know you’ve engaged children sexually and I hate the fact I’m saying that to you but you’re right, you did teach me too well.”
“Well I’m proud of you’, says Sullivan, “damn proud of you, I’m proud of the work I did and I couldn’t see myself going against it like that.”
“But you did’, responds the investigator, “and its killing you inside right now.”
“It is. It is. It’s killing me right now. In fact so ashamed if I did,” laments Sullivan.
“Are you sorry you engaged those children sexually?” asks Himes.
“Yes. Incredibly. I’m sorry for so many things I’ve done,” says Sullivan.
But Sullivan then seems to head in a different direction, indicating he has not sexually engaged anyone underage.
“When was the last time you were with a child?” asks Himes.
“I can’t remember ever being with a child sexually,” says Sullivan.
But when Himes asks again, he gets a different response.
“So is it possible you engaged in a threesome with a 13 year old?”
“Yes,” responds Sullivan.”I apologize and plead guilty.”
“What was his name?” queries Himes.
“I have no idea.”
“Was he a runaway?” asks the investigator.
“I have no idea’,” says Sullivan, who says if such an incident occurred, Sullivan was unaware of his partner’s age or too impaired to remember such an event.
Sullivan vehemently denies ever having sexual contact with any students in the Cherry Creek school district, where he served as security director after he left the sheriff’s office.
“I apologize to you and everybody but am not going to take falls on things I never did,” he says.”Nothing ever occurred with a child at Cherry Creek.”
Sullivan offers to take a polygraph test in response to several accusations that he says are untrue.
Himes returns to the issue of having sex with underage boys.
“So,” says Himes, ”you’re saying you may have had sex with a 13 year old boy you just don’t recall it?”
“If I did I did not do it knowingly and sober… what I’m saying is I might have been under the influence and did it. I’ll grant you that. That could very well have happened,” concedes Sullivan.
After a little more than three hours, the interview concludes with Sullivan telling a deputy, “It’s the end of a proud career for me.”
He is then handcuffed and taken to the jail that was named after him.
CBS4 spoke with Michael Dougherty and Robert Shapiro, the two attorneys from the Colorado Attorney General’s office who prosecuted the Sullivan criminal case. They agree Sullivan made many damning, incriminating statements during the taped interview that were thoroughly investigated. Dougherty said he has viewed the interview eight to 10 times.
“His indication that he may have had sex with an at risk adult or minor caused us great concern,” said Dougherty, ”and we did not leave any stone unturned. We tried to find the minors but were unable to find any witnesses that could bring proof or provide proof or a consistent story that they had been sexually assaulted by Sullivan. You have to have a victim, and evidence and a case you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We did not have those.”
Shapiro said the 22-person task force that investigated Sullivan “was still left with no living, breathing victim who could provide a credible account to corroborate the vague statements Sullivan made. Critical elements were missing that would have made it very difficult for a jury to return guilty verdicts,” concluded Shapiro.
He said authorities simply could not corroborate what he termed “pseudo admissions.”
The two prosecutors also said despite popular perception, Pat Sullivan ended up getting a harsher sentence than similarly situated defendants.
“When you look at defendants with similar drug offenses they get a misdemeanor or deferred judgment,” said Dougherty.
“He got a much harsher outcome,” said Dougherty, pointing out that Sullivan pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor and got jail time.
Shapiro called the Sullivan confession tape “one of the most unusual I’ve had the opportunity to review in my law enforcement career.”
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com