Buffalo Exchange, the Tuscon, Ariz.-based vintage clothing retailer with stores in 19 U.S. states, has cut ties with its Colorado franchisee group after dozens of anonymous allegations of employee abuse surfaced on an Instagram account this week.
At the same time, Denver police — with help from the FBI — said they are investigating the complaints, which included allegations of sexual assault, underage drug and alcohol use, fraud and theft.
People identifying themselves as former employees of Buffalo Exchange locations in Denver and Boulder levied the accusations against Colorado franchise managing partner Patrick Todd Colletti.
The Denver Post has communicated with nine people who said they are former employees of the Denver and Boulder locations. Their stories closely match and in some cases overlap with the allegations on the Instagram account, which has attracted more than 5,000 followers in a matter of days.
“I didn’t expect it to go this far this quick,” said Jessica Straughter, who worked as a buyer at the Denver location from 2010 to 2012. “But honestly, all of those stories are 100% true. It clearly wasn’t a professional place.”
Straughter said she was fired from her job for not enabling Colletti’s behavior.
In response to the allegations, Buffalo Exchange on Monday closed all of its Colorado stores. A sign on the South Broadway location originally noted, “We hope to reopen Saturday 8/1/2020.” Colletti, who was a managing partner of the six-person Colorado franchisee group, had been “released from responsibilities and associations from The Buffalo Exchange of Colorado,” according to a July 28 post on the stores’ Facebook page.
On Thursday afternoon, however, the company decided to cut ties with Colletti and his stores entirely, according to an open letter by Rebecca Block, the Buffalo Exchange corporate vice president.
“As of today, our relationship with the Buffalo Exchange Colorado franchise stores is terminated,” she wrote. “We have revoked any rights to the Buffalo Exchange brand and name. … To the victims, I am so sorry this happened. Most of all, I want you to know: we believe you.”
A representative for the company declined interview requests with Arizona-based executives, but on Wednesday released a statement attributed to corporate leadership.
“The recent revelations about a franchisee in Colorado are beyond disturbing and abhorrent. We are grateful and encouraged that the Denver Police Department is speaking to victims and opening an investigation into these very serious allegations,” the statement read.
No police reports have been filed related to the allegations, according to Denver and Boulder police departments. Colletti does not have a criminal record in Colorado, according to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation database.
However, a spokeswoman for the Denver Police Department said they have opened an investigation into the allegations on the Instagram account, with assistance from the FBI, and urged potential victims to contact detectives.
“If someone was a victim or witness to these allegations, they are encouraged to call (720) 913-2000,” wrote public information officer Christine Downs.
Denver police detective Shanna Michael, who works with the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, is providing FBI resources to Denver police.
A person using Colletti’s full name and personal phone number emailed The Denver Post this week.
“Take it easy on my scared employees and I will give you a story worth printing,” the person, who identified himself as Colletti, wrote. “Twenty-five years of used pants. Not quite front page but a lifetime of love and community and inclusion. It can’t be lost in a moment of anger.”
Colletti has not responded to follow-up calls, emails and texted requests for further comment.
Source: Read Full Article