Many victims of sexual assault don’t come forward for years, or sometimes at all. There can be many reasons for that, but one of the primary reasons is that victims often fear what will happen to them if they come forward. Unlike victims of most crimes, sexual assault victims are often treated with suspicion, as if they have done something wrong by being attacked.
Three school officials in Aurora, Colorado were just indicted for failing to protect the victims of sexual assault at their school. A teacher, Brian Vasquez, victimized multiple students at the school over a period of several years. In at least one instance four years ago, the school refused to believe claims that were brought to them.
In fact, they actually suspended the student, demanding she recant her account of being assaulted. The arrest of Brian Vasquez came in August of 2017. Had the school acted on the information brought to them in 2013, they could have prevented further crimes from occuring.
The officials now being indicted are Principal David Gonzales, Assistant Principal AJ MacIntosh, and a former counselor. Local news station 7News reports,
‘According to the indictment, the student said MacIntosh pressured her “to recant her disclosure of sexual abuse by Vasquez.” It also says school personnel notified Vasquez of the allegations who later met with the victim to “impress upon her the devastating effects her disclosure would have on his career and family.”
‘As the student met with MacIntosh and Gonzales together, she stated that she had “made up her disclosure,” and was then told she would be suspended from school for several days, according to the indictment.
‘But four years later, according to the indictment, Vasquez admitted to police he did in fact sexually assault that student and several others.
‘During testimony to the grand jury, the indictment says MacIntosh said she was “generally aware of the District’s expectations regarding the immediate reporting any allegations of sexual abuse, she nonetheless believed it was her individual responsibility to conduct her own personal investigations of allegations of impropriety of any type on the part of school staff, before complying with her obligations under the law.”‘
In other words, she took it upon herself to investigate despite the district’s procedures for such instances, and then felt like it’d be a good idea to question a child victim with the alleged perpetrator (now confirmed) present.
The district released the following statement:
‘We are aware of the indictments. The two individuals who are employed with Cherry Creek Schools, Prairie Middle School Principal David Gonzales and Assistant Principal A.J. MacIntosh, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the court proceedings. We will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.’
7News also reports that a letter was sent to parents at the school, which reads as follows:
‘This letter is to inform you that two Prairie Middle School administrators, Principal David Gonzales and Assistant Principal A.J. MacIntosh, have been placed on leave pending the outcome of legal proceedings related to charges for failing to report child abuse. Former school counselor Cheryl Somers, who no longer works for the district, has also been named in the legal proceedings, all of which stem from a grand jury investigation. We will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement in this matter. It is important to note that at this time none of these three have been convicted of any crime.
‘Prairie has a strong school community and we will continue to work together with staff, teachers and parents to provide outstanding educational opportunities to all of our students. A plan is being developed to provide interim administrative support. We will communicate additional details by Friday, January 12.’
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