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After filing a lawsuit on May 11, four women and their lawyers held a virtual press conference to discuss their case against Buffalo Exchange (a retailer popular with Millenials) and Todd Colletti, the former owner and co-founder of Buffalo Exchange Colorado. Colletti allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted his employees, and the claimants say that Buffalo Exchange knew about and encouraged Colletti’s actions.

During the press conference, Alyssa Detert, Amanda Pruess, Clara Pruess, and Megan Parker spoke about the harassment they received while working at Buffalo Exchange Colorado locations. All of the survivors echoed stories of manipulation and grooming for sexual abuse and a work environment that allowed this all to occur. They said Buffalo Exchange was aware of Colletti’s behavior for several years and choose to do nothing. It was only until a survivor’s Instagram page was formed that the company stepped forward and claimed they were in solidarity with the survivors of Colletti’s abuse.

Over more than a decade, during and after store hours, Colletti reportedly devised a party-like atmosphere where he plied his young employees with drugs and alcohol and built their trust, particularly at vulnerable times. Then, he preyed on them. When Amanda Pruess’ relationship with her boyfriend ended, Colletti, took her to his home and assaulted her. When Alyssa Detert was separating from her husband, Coletti assaulted her in the basement of the store. In 2012, when Megan Parker’s marriage was dissolving, Coletti, took her to his home and assaulted her.

Image courtesy of Buffalo Exchange.

The national owners of Buffalo Exchange – who are childhood friends of Colletti – protected their friend rather than the employees who reported the verbal and physical harassment and assaults that happened in public in the store, as well as more extreme wrongdoings Colletti perpetrated in the basement bar and at his home.

It was reported that Buffalo Exchange received numerous complaints from employees about Colletti’s conduct but rather than do anything to prevent him from harming other people, Buffalo Exchange forwarded the complaints to him so that he was aware of which employees had complained.

The lawsuit against Colletti and Buffalo Exchange’s corporate entities, filed in Colorado state court, seeks damages including economic restitution for the four employees and compensation to make up for harms and injuries including mental pain and suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, and impairment of quality of life. The employees are represented by Ben Lebsack and Mary Jo Lowrey of the Denver law firm Lowrey Parady Lebsack.

Dozens of former employees have told their stories on the Instagram account,; many anonymously. Other employees hoped to be part of such lawsuits but their cases were past the statute of limitations; still others are considering joining the lawsuit but have chosen not to go public with their stories and names.

Amanda Pruess explained during the press conference “He pinched me, poked me, ridiculed me, shamed me and gaslit me. He called me fat when I had gained some weight, ugly when I wasn’t wearing make-up, stupid when I made a mistake. He saved the compliments for when I was drunk. He assaulted me twice and then he acted like nothing happened. When I acted awkward the next day, he labeled me a prude. That’s when I realized how often he assaulted other people, too. I realized that this was the norm.”

“People – often young, often women, and often people of the LGBTQ community – were being groomed by a man enabled by a system of silence,” said Clara Pruess. “I witnessed the harassment of several employees including myself, drugs, nudity, inappropriate relationships, and public embarrassment of employees. This included slapping my ass on the floor, poking at my sides, and dumping water on me while wearing a white t-shirt. This all culminated with the assault of my sister. Today is the day I publicly condemn those in power that had the ability to stop the drug consumption, harassment, and the assault that took place over many decades.”

During the press conference, Detert had a message for Todd: “I hope you’re feeling the immense pain survivors have poured into their accounts of what you did to them. Your legacy is that of a predator. You preyed on me too many times, at too many vulnerable moments and I was naïve enough to think it would stop. I can see now that your abuse and manipulation continued, just in a different form.”

Detert also had a message for Kerstin Block and the Buffalo Exchange corporate entities: “You failed us. I refuse to accept that you were shocked by the allegations against Todd. I do not believe that you have ever stood in solidarity with those who suffered at his hands. You have been ignoring cries for help for years.”

Parker explained, “Whatever it was that you needed, Todd would give it to you and it was free, except that it wasn’t free and by the time you realized that you were paying for it, it was too late.  At the time I was missing a fatherly or brotherly presence in my life and he became a mentor to me. At the end of 2012, my husband and I separated and I was struggling a lot emotionally.”

She continued “Under the guise of a friendly evening, Todd plied me with alcohol, drove me to his home, and sexually assaulted me. The guilt and shame and embarrassment were stifling and even now I feel the impression that the trauma has made in my life. I hope for justice and healing for everyone who carries the weight of Todd’s abuse and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who believed us and supported us through all of this.”