AURORA | A candidate for Aurora City Council is a registered sex offender and has a lengthy criminal record, but no felony convictions — a disqualification in being eligible to run for an Aurora council seat.
Abel Laeke pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2004 for indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and sexual contact without consent, a felony, according to court documents. The case landed the at-large candidate on the Colorado sex offender registry, which marks him as having a felony conviction. It’s also one of the top Google search results for ‘Abel Laeke.’
Aurora City Council at-large candidate Abel Laeke's profile photo from the Colorado state sex offender registery
Aurora City Council candidate Abel Laeke. Photo by Philip Poston/ Aurora Sentinel
Laeke declined to comment for this story. His campaign website mentions a memoir, but no details about his criminal record.
But as Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman points out, Laeke’s plea, which was accepted, is not a conviction, and so he is in the clear in running for one of two open at-large seats on city council.
Prior to that case, which took place in Denver, Laeke had three other notable run-ins with the law, but none that resulted in a felony conviction, according to state and Denver court records.
In 1996, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office arrested Laeke on a felony burglary charge, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. It’s unclear if he was convicted, according to CBI records. Sheriff officials said he was booked into their jail for another jurisdiction, but they had no details of the charges. Four years later he was arrested and charged with DUI, which was reduced to a driving while ability impaired or DWAI. He was fined, sentenced to one year of probation and 24 hours of community service.
Laeke also has a felony trespassing charge from 2002 on his record. In that case, police were called to a family disturbance at a residence in Greenwood Village.
Laeke, the suspect, was issued a municipal summons for assault and damaging property. Upon taking Laeke’s key to the residence, which belonged to a family member, he was instructed not to return, or else he’d be charged with felony trespassing, according to an arrest affidavit.
Hours later the officer was dispatched back to the residence, where Laeke answered the door and, when asked, had no explanation of why he was in in the residence, according to the affidavit. He was charged with felony trespassing, but that case, according to court documents, was eventually dismissed.
Details on the felony burglary charge was not immediately available from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department records unit.
Laeke, who since the 2004 sexual assault allegation, hasn’t had another arrest, declined to offer details about his criminal record.
In 2014, he published a memoir titled, “No Pressure, No Diamonds” in which he explains, “I was lured by the bad behavior of those I considered friends, alarming my family and derailing my life. Add the trauma of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and my life hurtled toward the dark halls of a psychiatric institution. Like a phoenix, I was able to reclaim my life and turn my hard-won lessons into a passion for service to humanity.”
Laeke’s past also came into question when after he was released from Colorado State Mental Hospital in Pueblo, and ran for Pueblo City Council in 2015. Pueblo City Attorney Dan Kogovsek said, like Aurora, its city charter bars anybody with a felony conviction from running for office.
After reviewing documents provided by the ACLU, which authored a letter on Laeke’s behalf explaining the candidate did not have a felony conviction, Kogovsek said it was determined Laeke was eligible to run for office.
Hyman said the city was aware only of the sexual assault charge, as the city does not conduct background checks on candidates. Instead, the city relies on a candidate affidavit that asks candidates whether they have a felony conviction.
The city became aware of Laeke and his 2004 case when the candidate filed a pending lawsuit against the city of Aurora and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation earlier this year for requiring the not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea to be part of the sex offender registry, according to Hyman.
Aurora Sentinel reporter Brandon Johansson contributed to this report.
A previous version of this article said the ACLU represented Abel Laeke. The organization only authored a letter, which was provided to Pueblo City Council.