The story: A former Arapahoe County sheriff was so widely respected that when he retired in 2002, local Colorado politicians named their jail after him. Now that same sheriff, Patrick J. Sullivan, is an inmate at the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility, after being booked this week on charges that he tried to trade methamphetamine for sex with a man. In less pitiful days back in 1999, this "hero" sheriff played a lead role in the response to the Columbine school shootings, which led to his being named national sheriff of the year. Shocked former colleagues said he "oozed honesty and integrity." Sullivan, who's being held on $500,000 bail, is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 5.
The reaction: "It's like an April Fools' joke or something," former Boulder County Sheriff George Epp tells The Denver Post, "but it's not April 1st." And the more you dig into this disturbing case, says Michael Roberts at Westword, the more "creepy" the details get. Not only do officers say that they caught Sullivan handing over meth, expecting sex in return, but they suspect he might be HIV-positive, meaning he could be charged with knowingly exposing others. Frankly, what Sullivan did or didn't do is none of our business, says Jacob Sullum at Reason. "This sort of sleazy setup is an egregious waste of law enforcement resources, and it is manifestly unjust to threaten someone" with prison — Sullivan could get six years if convicted — "for attempting a peaceful, entirely consensual transaction with another adult."