BY PETER JONES
Three faculty members at Cherry Creek Schools, including a principal and his assistant principal, will have their first court appearances next week after being indicted on charges that they failed to properly report claims of a teacher’s sexual assault on a student at Prairie Middle School. The law requires notification to police in such circumstances.
The two top staffers who are still employed by the district—Principal David Gonzales and Assistant Principal A.J. MacIntosh—were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the court proceedings, the district’s spokeswoman Abbe Smith announced last week. The third official, school counselor Cheryl Somers-Wegienka, who no longer works for Cherry Creek Schools, is accused of suspending the student over the alleged incident.
Social-studies teacher Brian Vasquez, 34, was arrested last August after being accused of physical abuse and exchanging nude photos with several students. A grand-jury indictment says he admitted to sexually exploiting other students beginning in 2013.
The indictment centers on one 14-year-old student, who was allegedly told by MacIntosh and Gonzales that her accusations against Vasquez would be devastating to his career.
According to the indictment, the student said MacIntosh asked her to retract her claims of sexual abuse” and that Vasquez also met with the alleged victim to “impress upon her the devastating effects her disclosure would have on his career and family.” The student eventually recanted her accusation and was subjected to a disciplinary proceeding.
Tracey Grant, Cherry Creek’s executive director of middle schools, sent a letter last week advising parents at Prairie Middle School of the situation.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement in this matter,” the letter stated. “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.”
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