AURORA, Co. (KDVR) — More sexual assault and harassment allegations have been reported within the Cherry Creek School District. This comes after hundreds of students walked out of class just one day ago, protesting the district’s handling of an incident at Grandview High School.
Coming to light on Thursday, in an email from a local parent’s group, were new allegations claiming five more cases of sexual assault within the district since Tuesday’s walkout.
The release states in part:
“Cherry Creek School District families have reported an additional five cases of sexual assault to a parent group that has formed in response to the lack of accountability by district leadership.
“Overnight, families came forward to report alleged sexual assaulted in the district at the following schools: Cherokee Trail HS, Thunder Ridge MS, Antelope ES, Grandview HS and Dakota Valley EM.
“Cherry Creek’s response via email yesterday to the community was a disingenuous statement that the walkout was focused on bringing awareness to sexual assault month. While that would have been a noble cause, the student organizers of this walkout have made it clear it was a response to the district’s treatment of the victim at Grandview High School.”
FOX31 was there yesterday as hundreds of students walked out of class in protest of the district’s handling of an incident the Problem Solvers first reported. The incident involves a 16-year-old girl who reported a classmate grabbed her crotch area. It’s been five months since the incident and authorities have charged the boy, but the Cherry Creek School District has yet to complete its investigation.
Parents seek accountability
Ben and Sarah tell FOX31 they’ve been fighting with the district for almost a year, seeking accountability for their 7-year-old daughter who attended Antelope Ridge Elementary school student. They say their daughter was repeatedly harassed and the district ignored them, and they were forced to pull their child out of that school, so she could escape the harassment.
“We want the district, the board, the superintendent and everybody involved to start protecting our children,” Ben said. “That’s what’s most important and they’re not. Not only are they not doing it, they’re covering it up!”
Ben and Sarah are named in the newly released email from the parent group. The mother and father say last year, their daughter came home from school crying and shared that a fellow student said he was to ”do the sex” with her and proceeded to graphically describe it.
“It was vulgar descriptions,” Ben said. “He explained graphically what he wanted to do with her, where he wanted to do it, and how he wanted to hide it. He explained what sex was, saying it was a boy’s privates going into a girl’s crack. We were robbed as parents from that sensitive subject and explanation with our daughter.”
‘How was this not caught?’
The parents claim this has happened to other girls in their daughter’s classroom and the boy was grooming and manipulating them, also talking about massaging one another. Sarah said they noticed visible changes in their daughter’s behavior, saying she was depressed, crying and terrified to go to school.
As soon as they found out, they reported it to the school, but the district failed to remove the boy from class and the harassment persisted, and they claim some of it involved pornographic materials.
“How, in what’s considered to be the best school district in Colorado, how was this not caught? Because it didn’t just happen on one day,” Sarah told FOX31.
She said initially, the district has ignored their requests for mediation, change and inquiries about disciplinary action, which left them feeling silenced — until now, as other alleged victims in the district begin to come forward.
Sarah does say the district tried to get them to sign a no-contact order, but it was not written in their daughter’s favor and was an agreement that their daughter would not be in the same areas as the boy, so they did not sign it.
FOX31 reached out to Cherry Creek School District but had not heard back as of Thursday night. However, in response to yesterday’s walkout, the district sent a letter to parents saying students were raising awareness about sexual assault and they respect their right to do so.
Cherry Creek School District sent the following statement to FOX31 on Friday:
“Allegations of sexual assault should be reported to law enforcement, not reported to parent groups or posted to social media groups. It is important police are involved and able to investigate if there is an allegation of sexual assault. The district works collaboratively with police in investigations of alleged sexual assault when there is a nexus to the school. We continue to monitor the situation and will investigate and report to police any allegations that are brought to our attention.
“Allegations of discrimination or sexual harassment should be reported to the school administration, and if a parent feels that their concern is not being addressed, that parent should report to the district equity compliance officer or to the Office of Civil Rights. You can read more about these processes in a letter that was sent to families this week: https://www.cherrycreekschools.org/cms/lib/CO50000184/Centricity/Domain/4/Letter_Regarding_Walkouts_April20.pdf
“We are aware of Mr. Toth’s allegations. They have been thoroughly investigated and a resolution was reached and agreed to by both parties. As a result, the Title IX complaint related to his allegations was dismissed.
Here is a letter that was sent to the entire district Thursday from the Superintendent:
“”Dear CCSD families,
I want to acknowledge the student walkouts that took place at some of our high schools and middle schools yesterday. First and foremost, I want to say that I stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment. I also applaud the courage and commitment of our young people who gathered peacefully yesterday and used their voices to call attention to critical issues.
“I also want to share some information about how the district responds to allegations of sexual assault as well as reports of discrimination or harassment. The letter that was sent to high schools yesterday provides information and resources about how to report a sexual assault or an allegation of discrimination or harassment. Let me be clear – CCSD takes ALL allegations of sexual assault, discrimination and harassment seriously. We strictly follow all federal laws and regulations, including Title IX, as well as Cherry Creek School District Board policies, to address allegations.
“I also recognize that some students who participated in the walkout yesterday were focused on a specific allegation that is the subject of a Title IX investigation. We cannot release information about investigations involving students as we have a legal obligation to protect their privacy and provide due process for all students involved. The district has followed both Title IX and CCSD Board policies in its handling of this matter. We also coordinate with law enforcement to gather and share information.
“Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. In August 2020, the U.S. Department of Education created new regulations specific to allegations of sexual harassment. The Office of Civil Rights is the federal agency that oversees Title IX. You can learn more about Title IX and the Office of Civil Rights here.
“CCSD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, transgender status, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. You can learn more about the district’s non-discrimination policies and procedures here. You can learn about the Family Educations Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) here.
“The following organizations offer resources that may also be helpful as well:
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault – https://www.ccasa.org/for-survivors/
If you need or want help finding your local resource, contact firstname.lastname@example.org *Please note, we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of emails sent to CCASA.
The Blue Bench (formerly RAAP) – https://thebluebench.org/
At the Blue Bench, our mission is to eliminate sexual assault and diminish the impact it has on individuals, their loved ones and our community through comprehensive issue advocacy, prevention and care.
Project PAVE – https://www.projectpave.org/
Our mission is to end violence by empowering youth to build healthy relationships.
Sungate Kids – https://sungatekids.org/
Sungate Kids is an organization committed to creating a community where children can be safe and free from abuse.
Thank you for your partnership in ensuring our schools are safe places for all.