ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- A district court judge ordered that the criminal charges against the former principal and assistant principal of Prairie Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District should be dismissed because the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes ran out before they were indicted by a grand jury, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.
For the past year, Prairie Middle School principal David Gonzalez and assistant principal Adrienne “A.J.” MacIntosh have been fighting the criminal charges for allegedly knowingly and willingly failing to report the sexual abuse of a student.
According to 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, “The grand jury found that in April 2013 a student at Prairie Middle School disclosed to another student that she had what she called a sexual relationship with one of her teachers, Brian Vasquez. The student who received the information told a school administrator. The victim was disciplined, and law enforcement and social services were not notified.”
Brauchler tried putting Gonzalez and MacIntosh on trial for failing to act according to Colorado mandatory reporting laws. A lower court judge ruled he could move forward based on the evidence.
However, in a ruling coming down Wednesday, Senior Arapahoe County District Court Judge Stephen Schapanski ordered the cases dismissed. The ruling said the statute of limitations for failing to report child abuse is 18 months and that police didn’t find out about the alleged silence in time.
In a television interview with FOX31 Problem Solvers, Brauchler shared his frustrations, and said it’s past time for the state legislature to elongate the limitations time period.
“Broader than what happened in this case,” Brauchler said, “which is outrageous enough, is the idea the legislature had the opportunity a year ago and another one next month to do the right thing and fix this law -- help better protect our children. And the word behind the scenes is [that] the teachers union, my church -- the Catholic Church -- [and] the criminal defense bar are working to kill this bill.”
The only legal option for appeal of the Judge Schapanki’s ruling sits in the hands of new Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. FOX31 called Weiser's office and left a message Wednesday afternoon asking if he would appeal, but have not yet received a return call.
Earlier this year, Prairie Middle School social studies teacher Brian Vasquez was convicted of molesting at least five students between 2013 and 2017. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In addition, that same day, the Cherry Creek School District paid the victims of Vasquez’s crimes 11.5 million dollars.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers contacted the district following the Wednesday ruling to ask about the status of Gonzales and MacIntosh.
A reply from district spokesperson Abbe Smith confirmed the pair were getting paid while they awaited trial. Smith wrote:
"Both employees are on administrative leave at this time. We are in the process of having discussions internally about how to move forward from here."
A.J. MacIntosh was put on leave Jan. 1, 20181/4/18. Her current salary is $79,575.03.
David Gonzales was put on leave Jan. 10, 2018. His current salary is $111,913.03.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gonzales' attorney sent the statement below via email:
"Mr. Gonzales has devoted his career to the care and education of our young citizens. Mr. Gonzales only learned of the sickening conduct of Brian Vazquez when the police reached out for assistance in their investigation- an investigation he immediately assisted with. Mr. Gonzales had no knowledge of Mr. Vazquez’s predation until the police told him of it. Here, all witnesses were inconsistent with each other regarding whether Mr. Gonzales ever had knowledge and even Mr. Vasquez himself told law enforcement he was surprised to see Mr. Gonzales charged, as he was never involved. Mr. Gonzales was made a scapegoat for the repulsive actions of Mr. Vazquez. Such an attempt to grab headlines detracts from holding the actual predator responsible and minimizes the disgusting conduct of Mr. Vazquez by condemning those who live to protect and educate children.
Statutes of limitations are in place in order to allow an innocent person to be able to present evidence on their own behalf. It is not to excuse illegal conduct and is not a technicality. The statute of limitations did its job- it kept an innocent person innocent."AlertMe