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Firefighter, once hailed as a hero, resigns after exposing himself at a Hobby Lobby

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Source: Colorado Springs Fire Department

Lance Benzel
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

An ex-Colorado Springs firefighter credited with saving lives during the 2015 Planned Parenthood shootings is accused of exposing himself inside a hobby supply store — and blaming it on a wardrobe malfunction.

Police say Bo Jay Hutchinson, 44, was “caught masturbating” Dec. 18 inside Hobby Lobby, 5994 Barnes Road, and tried to chalk it up to a misunderstanding.

During his arrest on suspicion of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, the 17-year veteran firefighter told officers that a hole in his pants near his genitals was the result of a tear — or “blowout” — as he shopped for Christmas gifts in the basket aisle, a police report shows.

A store manager reported that Hutchinson’s genitals were in plain view and that he appeared to be fondling himself.

Police found a bottle of personal lubricant in Hutchinson’s jacket pocket and said that he had a second, intact pair of pants in his car in the parking lot.

News of the arrest comes three weeks after another decorated former Colorado Springs firefighter pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.

Under a plea bargain, Roger Stambaugh, 59, faces four to 12 years in prison on two of the counts to which he pleaded guilty, and two to six years on the third. He also will be eligible for probation with up to 90 days in jail or up to two years on jail work release.

Stambaugh, who served for 32 years before retiring within days of his October arrest, remains free on $250,000 bond pending a June 11 sentencing.

An attorney for Hutchinson said surveillance footage doesn’t support the allegations.

“Right now, we’re still looking at all the information and all the evidence, but the evidence that’s been provided, in my opinion, is insufficient to prove the charges,” said Joe Lazzara of Denver.

Lazzara said Hutchinson is “somebody who has dedicated his life to helping people.”

The Hobby Lobby manager told police there were teenage girls in the store at the time, but said they had left by the time police arrived. It’s unclear if they or other customers saw lewd conduct.

Hutchinson is facing up to 18 months in jail, though court observers say prison is unlikely.

“If he doesn’t have any priors, I can’t imagine any reason why he wouldn’t get probation,” said attorney Shimon Kohn, who isn’t directly involved in the case.

If convicted, Hutchinson would be placed on a sex offender registry for at least five years, said Ted McClintock, a Colorado Springs sex crimes attorney who isn’t involved but agreed to discuss potential consequences.

Hutchinson joined the Colorado Springs Fire Department in 2001 and resigned in February, relinquishing a $90,000-per-year position as a firefighter/paramedic, department spokesman Capt. Brian Vaughan said.

In 2017, Hutchinson was one of two Fire Department medics who received a Red Cross Hometown Heroes award, credited for minimizing the loss of life during the Nov. 27, 2015, standoff at Planned Parenthood, where Robert Lewis Dear Jr. allegedly killed three people and wounded nine.

Hutchinson is due for a pretrial conference May 8 in El Paso County Court.

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©2019 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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