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Jeffco teacher accused of sexual assaults passed state background check

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- A Jefferson County substitute teacher charged with sexually assaulting a 6th grade girl, had a long history of sexual assault accusations FOX 31 Denver has learned.

But 47-year-old Vincente Vitela passed a Colorado Department of Education background check, despite several complaints filed with the state by Denver Public Schools.

He was a substitute teacher at Lumberg Elementary School in Edgewater in mid-February when he was reported. Authorities arrested him February 25.

FOX 31 has confirmed Vitela was accused of sexual harassment, misconduct, and three sexual assaults on children while working as an assistant principal at Ashley Elementary School in Denver.

Denver Public Schools spokesperson Kathy Armstrong told us, “The Colorado Department of Education was given the proper notification,” about those allegations after Vitela resigned in 2005.

The Colorado Department of Education keeps track of complaints and does background checks on all potential employees before they are allowed to work in schools.

But Vitela’s history of serious sexual allegations wasn’t enough to stop him from getting a teaching position with Jefferson County Public Schools in 2009.

Jeff Baker, the director of employment services for Jefferson County Public Schools, said the education department's background check on Vitela came back clean, and his teaching license was in good standing. “There was no indication that there was anything irregular,” he said.

The Colorado Department of Education sent us a statement which says under state law, it can only report information “about an individual’s background…if there is a conviction for a felony…a misdemeanor offense involving a child…unlawful sexual behavior or domestic violence…”

But while Vitela was accused multiple times, he was never convicted which gave him the opportunity to continue to work in schools, and investigators say, find another victim.

The Colorado Department of Education said school districts are required by law not only to get a background from the state, but also check the potential employee's previous employer.

Jefferson County said it checked with Vitela’s most recent employer, a tutoring company, and he was given a good recommendation.

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