Former employees of the Colorado Mountain Club sued the Golden organization this week for hiring a registered sex offender who secretly captured nude or inappropriate photos and video of employees while on the job and posted footage to pornographic websites.
In their lawsuit, filed Thursday in Jefferson County District Court, the eight plaintiffs alleged the outdoors-oriented organization negligently hired Chun Min Chiang, created a hostile work environment, failed to protect workers’ privacy, and discriminated and retaliated against employees who complained about Chiang’s behavior.
“Not only were they concerned about the enormous violations of their privacy,” attorney Paula Greisen wrote in the lawsuit, “but they suffered extreme anxiety about whether children attending the facility had also been victimized.”
Chiang, 40, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in April to charges of second-degree burglary with a sexual factual basis and posting private images for the purpose of sexual harassment, according to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The Colorado Mountain Club, which is focused on educational and recreational activities for kids and adults, is based out of the 47,000-square-foot American Mountaineering Center, which also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The center features an auditorium, conference rooms, office space, changing rooms, showers, restrooms, a climbing wall and a youth area.
At the time of his hiring, Chiang was a registered sex offender who police found had taken numerous photos and videos up the skirts of local women while working in Boulder in the early 2000s and secretly filmed children while trying to zoom in on their “intimate parts,” according to the lawsuit.
Despite his criminal convictions, the Colorado Mountain Club hired Chiang in 2010 and eventually promoted him to head of information technology, head of human resources and director of finance, according to the lawsuit.
The club fired Chiang at the end of 2019 for bullying and harassment, according to its timeline of events.
However, the eight plaintiffs — Maryjane Jarvis, Brittany Smith, Emily Bresko, Logan Chandler, Patrick Collentine, Maddie Miller, Kathy Nguyen and Lauren Shockey — said that during Chiang’s employment, he created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation coupled with sexual harassment that was ignored by the organization’s leaders despite multiple attempts by employees to raise the situation.
Golden police found evidence Chiang had been secretly recording women at the Colorado Mountain Club while they were changing or in the restroom, and placed cameras under their desks to see up their skirts, according to the lawsuit.
The police investigation began in 2020 after Chiang hacked into the club’s social media account and posted a link to a pornography website featuring a former employee being secretly filmed, the lawsuit said.
Detectives recovered more than 13,000 videos of women being recorded without their knowledge in restrooms, fitting rooms, and up their skirts at various locations, along with more than 200 images and videos of suspected child pornography and exploitation, Golden police said in a news release.
“Chiang had been employed for over a decade and there was no suspicion of criminal activity or tendencies during his employment,” Keegan Young, executive director of Colorado Mountain Club, said in a statement Friday to The Denver Post in response to questions about the lawsuit.
“Ours is a tight-knit community built on shared values and trust. We believe in inclusivity and safety, including psychological safety — for our team, the outdoor community and all Coloradans,” he added. “We are committed to providing an environment free from all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and other crimes against members of our community…This was a horrific experience for the victims and our community. We are working together to heal and continue our service for our members and Coloradans.”
Young said background checks previously were completed for people working with youth, but because of Chiang, now all employees will receive background checks. Young said the Golden Police Department assured the club the only victims at their workplace were adult women.
The organization has taken steps in response to the “evil, disgusting criminal activities of Chun Chiang,” Young said.
Some of those steps include:
- Having professionals sweep the building for cameras or recording devices
- Providing all staff 20 paid days off to heal
- Providing counselors
- Replacing all computers Chiang set up
- Re-keying the building
According to the lawsuit, multiple employees complained about Chiang’s behavior to leadership at the Colorado Mountain Club over the years, such as Chiang sending out company-wide emails mocking sexual harassment training sessions, gifting a coworker a swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated at an office party at which management was present, and sending lewd, graphic texts to another female employee and threatening suicide when she did not respond to his advances.
The lawsuit said management did not discipline Chiang despite reports of his behavior. One supervisor is alleged to have suggested a female employee buy Chiang a gift because “you don’t want to get on his bad side.”
The plaintiffs allege they were victims of negligent hiring after the club gave Chiang — a registered sex offender known for illegally recording women and children — unfettered access to the club’s computer and security equipment.
“When the extent of the invasion of privacy of the female employees became apparent to Plaintiffs, they demanded transparency regarding Chiang’s behavior, an effective harassment and discrimination policy, and that steps be taken to ensure that they and other women and children were safe in the CMC workplace,” Greisen wrote in the lawsuit. “CMC constructively discharged all Plaintiffs in retaliation for engaging in this protected conduct.”
The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and financial compensation.
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