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Vail is a is a small town of approximately 5,500 residents at the base of Vail Mountain, home of the massive Vail Ski Resort, located in Eagle County, CO. While prostitution and sex trafficking have not demonstrated to be significant issues, reports of their occurred have been documented, generating complaints to local law enforcement. Among the more serious issues associated with the area’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2018, a Colorado grand jury indicted two individuals, a man and woman, for allegedly transporting two juveniles in July, 2017 to a hotel in Glenwood Springs and exploited the children sexually for money. According to reports, the offenders posted ads of the juveniles on websites known for commercial sex, and provided hotel rooms where respondents would meet and sexually exploit the victims in exchange for money. The female offender was charged with 10 felony counts, including trafficking a minor for sexual servitude and procurement of a child, keeping a place of child prostitution, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The male offender was charged on eight counts.
Identity disclosure and loss of employment are consequences of buying sex in the town. For example, in November, 2018, the Director of Information Services for the town of Vail was arrested and charged with soliciting a minor for prostitution in Glenwood Springs. As a result of his arrest, the offender was placed on leave Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, and his employment with the town of Vail was officially terminated Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. The offender’s arrest was part of an investigation into a child sex trafficking ring operating out of Glenwood Springs. According to reports, the former Director of Information Services had worked for the town of Vail for more than 24 years. He appeared in Garfield County District Court on bond and was released with a court protection order prohibiting him from having contact with children younger than 18. He was officially charged with four felony counts, including soliciting for child prostitution, pandering of a child, patronizing a prostituted child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A plea deal made in 2019, allowed the offender to avoid jail time if he registered as a sex offender and agreed to five years of probation. As the result of an internal investigation into the offender after the former Director of Information Services’ initial arrest in 2018, he was rearrested in 2020 for numerous counts, including embezzlement, official misconduct, and cyber crimes for allegedly stealing $854,915 between 2012 and 2018. Prosecutors for the Fifth Judicial District (which includes Eagle County) alleged that the offender had used his position as Vail’s IT director to steer inflated contracts to companies controlled by a long-time friend. Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum told the Problem Solvers the two men were involved in a “billing and invoicing scheme where their own personal companies were set up to really accept the money from one to the other and ultimately into their own personal bank accounts.” The arrest affidavit additionally alleged that the offender had used the stolen funds to pay his defense attorneys for the 2018 prostitution case in neighboring Garfield County, to pay his taxes, school tuition, cars for his daughters, and even to buy a car for a prostituted woman. More than a month after being released from jail on bond, the offender cut off a GPS monitoring device issued to him and eventually fled to Maricopa County. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office stopped a car on the morning of Nov. 21, 2020 because officers suspected the offender and a homeowner possibly providing shelter him were in it. After being stopped by sheriff’s deputies, the offender shot and killed himself at a juncture. According to reports, investigations into the offender’s death and flee from Colorado were ongoing. Police did not release details about the other person involved in the traffic stop.
Identity Disclosure, Loss of Employment:
- https://www.vaildaily.com/news/crime/former-town-of-vail-employee-charged-with-soliciting-child-prostitute-in-glenwood-springs/ (2018)
- https://kdvr.com/news/problem-solvers/former-vail-government-employee-accused-of-embezzling-854k/ (2020)
- https://denver.cbslocal.com/2020/11/14/ronald-braden-vail-it-director-embezzlement-arrest-child-prostitution-fugitive/ (2020)
- https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-breaking/2020/11/23/former-colorado-town-employee-run-police-takes-own-life-during-traffic-stop-phoenix/6397600002/ (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: