(CORRECTED) Registered sex offender running for office in Kremmling
March 15, 2018
Updated March 20 to reflect correction and clarification: Richard Terwilliger was not convicted of sexual assault of a child as previously reported. The full details of his 1997 charges and ensuing imprisonment and registration on the state's sex offender registry are now contained within this story.
Kremmling resident Richard Terwilliger is one of 11 candidates in this year's Kremmling election, though his past criminal history could raise concerns over his entry into the local political scene.
Terwilliger was arrested and charged in October 1996 with one count of sexual assault on a child, three counts of felony menacing, one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief and one count of harassment pertaining to an incident that was said to have occurred in Kremmling, according to court documents obtained by Sky-Hi News.
According to a court affidavit by Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade, who was a police officer at the time, Terwilliger's wife at the time contacted police to report that Terwilliger had threatened her and others with a splitting maul. The affidavit indicated that Terwilliger had been confronted earlier by his wife regarding information she received that he had "taken advantage" of a minor, whose name was withheld, while she spent the night at Terwilliger's home.
In a preliminary interview with authorities, Terwilliger said "he may have touched (the girl) while he was playing with his kitten," according to the affidavit.
Terwilliger was then placed in custody and transported to Grand County Jail.
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He initially entered into a plea bargain in January 1997 where he pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual assault on a child and a count of menacing, according to court records, with the remaining charges to be dismissed. The court, however, rejected the original plea after Terwilliger committed an unrelated crime while out on bond.
During that time, Terwilliger also had a conflict with his attorney, according to court documents, and accepted new counsel.
In October 1997, Terwilliger entered into a new plea bargain with the court. Because the district attorney's office was unable to locate the alleged victim of the sexual assault, according to court documents, the prosecution was unable to pursue the charge of sexual assault on a child. Terwilliger instead pleaded guilty to harassment and one class 5 felony count of menacing with a deadly weapon.
Prior to being sentenced, Terwilliger’s counsel submitted a motion to omit sexual assault information from the presentence investigation. The court denied the motion December 1997, according to court records.
As part of the plea, his sentence was capped at three years in a Colorado correctional facility and six months of imprisonment in Grand County Jail, which were served concurrently.
Terwilliger was later required to register on the Colorado sexual offender registry, despite not being convicted of sexual assault of a child. A state statute at the time required any person released from the custody of the department of corrections having completed serving a sentence for an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior be registered as a sexual offender or if the factual basis involved an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior.
Colorado defines sexual assault on a child as fondling or being fondled by a child under the age of 15, with the assailant being at least four years older than the child. Terwilliger was in his 30s at the time of the incident.
“That is all over,” Terwilliger, 55, told Sky-Hi News Wednesday afternoon. “I paid my dues. I did my time and did my counseling. That stuff should not matter anymore. If people want to dwell on what I did before they are living in the past. I am looking forward to the future and what can be done from here out."
Terwilliger's response came on the heels of a candidate forum held March 14 in Kremmling.
He acknowledged that his actions from two decades ago were inappropriate and wrong, but asserted that he has changed over the intervening years and has "become a better person."
“I was a bad person. I made mistakes,” Terwilliger said. “I have been the lowest of the low. But I overcame and came back from that. That should count for something.”
Per Colorado law, Terwilliger is not barred from running for public office despite being registered as a sexual offender. According to Terwilliger, he is eligible to have his criminal record expunged and sealed though he said he has not yet done so due to the amount of work the process requires.
“Whether I win the election or not, I will be who I am,” Terwilliger said. “I am not afraid of this. I have been anticipating this. I have paid everything and don’t have to defend myself. Let's move on and look at the future.”
Bryce Martin, Sky-Hi News editor, contributed to this report.