Rose Chilcoat files lawsuit against Utah rancher, San Juan County officials

Complaint says Durango environmentalist was falsely accused of trying to kill cattle


By Jonathan Romeo, The Durango Herald (CO)

April 10, 2019


Local environmentalist Rose Chilcoat has filed a civil lawsuit against a Utah rancher and San Juan County officials who accused her of trying to kill cattle two years ago.


Chilcoat was expected to make a statement about her lawsuit Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Her attorney, Karra Porter, said Wednesday morning the charges against Chilcoat were not based in fact and were politically motivated.


The rancher, Zane Odell, could not be reached for comment. San Juan County Attorney Kendall Laws was out of the office Wednesday.


“There is significant concern that a lot of things were done to Rose Chilcoat simply because of her environmental views,” Porter said.


In April 2017, Chilcoat and her husband, Mark Franklin, were hit with felony and misdemeanor charges after prosecutors said the couple closed the gate to one of Odell’s corrals between Mexican Hat and Bluff with the intent to shut cattle off from access to water.


The San Juan County Attorney’s Office charged Chilcoat with two misdemeanors: one for trespassing on state trust lands and another for providing false information for identifying herself to police using her married name.


Six days after the initial charges were filed, Chilcoat was issued two new felony charges: attempted wanton destruction of livestock and retaliation against a witness for a letter she sent to the Bureau of Land Management about Odell’s cattle operation.


Ultimately, all the charges against Chilcoat were dropped by higher courts.


Franklin, however, ended up taking a plea deal earlier this month. If he meets several conditions of the deal, including paying a $1,000 fine, all charges will be dropped.


The couple have maintained for the past two years the entire case was brought as a form of retaliation for Chilcoat’s years of environmental work for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, which deals with many contentious public lands and grazing issues in San Juan County.


According to the civil lawsuit filed Wednesday, Chilcoat was “vindicated” when the courts dismissed the charges against her.


“It took more than a year, however, after Ms. Chilcoat was forced to incur substantial defense costs fighting the fabricated allegations,” the complaint said. “The actions against Ms. Chilcoat violated her constitutional rights and cost her a substantial amount of money, for which this lawsuit seeks redress.”


Chilcoat Complaint ...


more, including links, the complaint