U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Colorado investigative journalist assaulted by city official

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 29, 2022

Assault

Assailant
Public figure
Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
March 29, 2022

Colorado independent journalist Stacy Lynne told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that Loveland City Manager Stephen Adams “shoulder-checked” her while she was covering a hearing on public records on March 29, 2022.

“It still shocks me to realize that he actually hit me,” Lynne said. “I didn't even have time to adjust or brace, I didn't have time to defend myself at all.”

As part of an investigation, Lynne had sued the city of Loveland in 2021 for access to records around a police detective’s employment files. In January 2022, a district court judge granted her unredacted access to the files. Lynne said she was attending the March evidentiary hearing for the Loveland mayor’s public records request which referenced her reporting.

It was at the hearing, Lynne said, where she realized Adams had been involved in blocking access to the public records. Adams did not respond to requests for comment.

After the incident, Lynne filed a report with the sheriff’s department. She said it took 72 days for harassment charges to be filed.

In October, Adams entered into a diversion agreement, a contract with the court that allows first-time offenders to resolve cases outside the criminal justice process. Larimer County Assistant District Attorney Matt Maillaro told the Tracker via email that the case remained open while Adams completed the conditions of his diversion agreement — 50 hours of community service and a conflict management class. According to the DA’s office, failure to meet the conditions could result in prosecution. Adams is expected to complete the agreement in February 2023.

Several months after the assault, Lynne said she was satisfied with how the DA’s office handled the case but was still disturbed by the city manager’s actions.

“His intention was clearly to scare me enough that I would stop reporting on what the city's problems are,” Lynne said. “So that's the chilling aspect, to make it clear that this was no accident.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].