Aspen police find sexual abuse accusations against former St. Mary’s priest unfounded |

Aspen police find sexual abuse accusations against former St. Mary’s priest unfounded

The Aspen Police Department has concluded a 19-month investigation into a sexual assault allegation made against former Aspen priest Michael O’Brien and closed the case as unfounded, according to a Wednesday press release from the Aspen Police Department.

O’Brien, a priest formerly serving at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen, will have no charges filed against him.

The investigation, conducted with the assistance of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the FBI, launched in September of 2021, with an allegation of sexual assault against O’Brien regarding what was reported as a series of incidents between 2004 and 2008 in Aspen, allegedly involving a juvenile victim.

As part of the investigation, the Aspen Police Department spoke with at least 26 law enforcement agencies, interviewed more than 80 witnesses, and reviewed a polygraph report that O’Brien voluntarily submitted to, the release states. In total, Aspen Police, led by Detective Jeremy Johnson, invested more than 500 hours into this case in an attempt to find the truth, the release said.

“We understand the significant impact this case had on (the reporting person), Father O’Brien, St. Mary’s, and our community,” Detective Sergeant Rick Magnuson said. “We appreciate the patience that was given as investigators pursued this case; we are confident that we have reached the proper conclusion.”

The release advises that if anyone has experienced sexual violence, to contact Aspen Police at 1-970-920-5310, or Response Aspen at or 1-970-925-7233. In this case, as with all sexual assault investigations, Aspen Police starts every conversation with “I believe you,” the release states.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.