AURORA, Colo. – A female student who told school administrators she’d been sexually assaulted by a teacher was suspended and then forced to apologize to the accused perpetrator and hug him, according to an indictment against three Colorado school officials handed down Wednesday.
Principal David Gonzales, Vice Principal AJ MacIntosh and counselor Cheryl Somers-Wegienka of Prairie Middle School in Aurora, Colo. were named in the indictments, reported FOX31 Denver.
The Cherry Creek School District informed parents MacIntosh and Gonzales were placed on administrative leave “pending the outcome of the court proceedings.” Somers-Wegienka discontinued working at the school before the indictment was issued.
The indictment stems from the unidentified teen’s 2013 report that she was being sexually assaulted by Brian C. Vasquez (pictured), who has since been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and exploiting students.
The girl said she reported the allegations to MacIntosh and Gonzales. However, their handling of the incident has enraged many and led to legal trouble. They told the female student the allegations would ruin Vasquez’s family and career and stressed what a “valued teacher” he was, the Denver Channel reported.
Moreover, the teen said Gonzales asked her to recant the allegation. Furthermore, once she was pressured into recanting, administrators suspended her, the Aurora Sentinel reported.
In a separate meeting with MacIntosh, Vasquez, a counselor, Gonzales and the teen’s parents, she was reportedly forced to “apologize to Vasquez and hug him at the end of the meeting,” FOX 31 Denver reported.
But in August, Vasquez, 34, was arrested. He is now accused of sexually exploiting students. The teacher, who had been employed at the school for seven years, told police he sexually assaulted a student and others, the Denver Channel reported.
As a result, Vasquez faces “at least 31 felony counts,” court documents indicated, though he originally faced eight felony counts for charges of abuse and sending nude photos to underage students. Vasquez was a social studies teacher at the school but has been placed on administrative leave.
MacIntosh said she did not remember the student reporting the alleged sexual assault, according to the indictment.
“MacIntosh further claimed that she could not remember her involvement in any aspect of the disciplinary process resulting in CV’s suspension from school, even when presented with official documentation from the school district bearing her signature, and confirming her presence (at a meeting),” the indictment stated.
Gonzales also said he did not remember the student reporting the alleged assault against Vasquez as well.
The three administrators face a “misdemeanor charge of failing to report child abuse or neglect.”
The Cherry Creek School District sent a letter to parents at Prairie Middle School Wednesday afternoon:
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.
Moreover, Cherry Creek Schools Communications Director Abbe Smith issued the following statement about the indictments:
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.
Gonzales and MacIntosh first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 23.