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COLORADO SPRINGS—In a bombshell story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Gazette, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is seen posing partially naked in a photo accompanied by a text message to a female subordinate reading "wish you were with me."

That's just the beginning of a litany of alleged sexual contact between Maketa and female subordinates, along with accusations of wrongful treatment of staffers and removal of all oversight of the department's $60 million budget mentioned in the story.

Maketa has been a rising star in the Colorado Republican party, whose name has been batted about in political circles as a candidate for statewide office after his handling of wildfires in the Colorado Springs region.

El Paso Co. sheriff involved in sex scandal. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 05/23/14.

The story references a seven-page complaint to the El Paso County Commission alleging that Maketa had sexual relationships with three female staffers with whom he traveled on the public dime.

Maketa aggressively denied the accusations, but couched his denial of the sexual relationships by using the word "inappropriate."

"I have never had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the three individuals you named." Maketa told the Gazette. "If you publish anything to the contrary, I am fully prepared to take legal action."

The women have denied having a sexual relationship with Maketa, who is married.

On Friday, El Paso County Sheriff's Office issued the following statement:

At this time, upon the advice of legal counsel, Sheriff Terry Maketa has no comment. An independent outside investigator is conducting the investigation and the Sheriff plans to fully cooperate in every way, both legally and with the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, then any comments or statements will be forthcoming.

"These are serious allegations that deserve serious scrutiny," said Jeff Hays, chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party. "El Paso County citizens demand and deserve the highest standards of performance and integrity from their elected officials, and sheriff's office employees deserve fair treatment in a system based on performance excellence. We will not rush to judgment; however, we do demand open, unbiased examination of these allegations out of respect for the sheriff's office, El Paso County voters, and all parties directly involved."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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