Couple pleads guilty to faking hate crime
A gay couple accused of staging a hate crime they blamed on neighbors has pleaded guilty to one of the charges against them.
Aimee Whitchurch, 37, and Christel Conklin, 29, reached a plea agreement with the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office on June 21 after prosecutors agreed to dismiss two of the three charges against each of the former Parker residents. They pleaded guilty to one count of false reporting and were sentenced to 12 months of probation and 24 hours of community service; authorities are still trying to determine a proper amount of restitution.
The women said in October last year that they were targeted by neighbors and homeowners association members who disapproved of their lifestyle. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was called to their townhouse near Jordan Road and Cottonwood Drive after they reported that someone had spray painted “Kill the Gay” on their garage door. The following day, deputies were called again after they said a noose was left on their door handle.
The case drew significant attention from national news networks and the Anti-Defamation League, which backed off its earlier condemnation of the alleged hate crime after charges were filed against the women in May. The Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted with the investigation.
During an interview with the Parker Chronicle in mid-May, Whitchurch and Conklin denied the charges and said they were prepared to fight the accusations until the end. Whitchurch said then that she would not take a plea agreement if one is offered.
“I will never sign my name to something I didn’t do,” she said.
When reached by phone June 29, she said she was not immediately available for an interview and scheduled a time on July 2 to explain the guilty plea.
The couple has since moved out of the Parker area and now lives near the University of Denver campus.