AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The parents of a 16-year-old Grandview High School girl say the Cherry Creek School District is sending the wrong message when it comes to investigating their daughter’s allegation that a 17-year old male student touched her inappropriately.
“I want her to be protected,” the girl’s father said. FOX31 has agreed to protect the father’s identity in order to protect the identity of his daughter.
“It’s very difficult for her to walk in there every day knowing this is looming and that this alleged perpetrator is still at the school that she has to see every day,” the father said.
Where is the discipline after reports of unwanted sexual touching?
In mid-November, the girl told school leaders a classmate had grabbed her crotch through her clothes two weeks earlier while she was standing in the back of a class during a group project with three boys.
According to an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by the Problem Solvers, the girl said the boy, “Grabbed me between my legs, it felt extremely violating and I froze because I did not know what to do, it was humiliating and I was very mad and uncomfortable, he then laughed and sat back down.”
A boy who witnessed the incident told investigators he remembered telling the girl what the suspect did to her was “fu–ed up.”
Yet a Title IX investigative report obtained by the Problem Solvers suggests the school district has taken no disciplinary action against the boy except for the possibility of making the boy sign a no-contact order, which the girl has also done.
There is nothing in the report to indicate the district has suspended the boy, let alone transferred him to a new school or forced him to learn remotely as the girl and her parents told FOX31 they would have expected.
The Arapahoe County district attorney charged the boy with a misdemeanor count of unlawful sexual contact back in January.
The girl’s father told FOX31 he believes the boy should have been transferred while the district conducted its investigation.
“Absolutely, that should’ve been done within 30 days, and we’re at five months and the kid is still going to school, life as usual,” he said.
What the documents say
According to emails and reports reviewed by the Problem Solvers, the school district has spent five months conducting a Title IX investigation to consider the girl’s allegations.
A preliminary report said that the girl told investigators the boy started, “Pulling my hair, push me in the hallways, touch my thighs, touch and slap my butt. She told him to stop on several occasions; however he did not” beginning in August of 2020.
After the incident in November 2021, when the girl said the male student touched her vagina through her clothes, he allegedly whispered in her ear, “Your consent means nothing to me.”
The father said that when he learned about what the suspect allegedly said to his daughter, he was “inconsolable for about an hour. I’ve never cried that hard ever.”
The girl’s father told FOX31 he is furious that the district gave the boy a deadline of Feb. 7 to make a statement.
Three days after that deadline, on Feb. 10, the boy and his father emailed the district a short statement that reads in part, “Due to a pending criminal case I choose to deny all allegations.”
At that point, the Title IX investigator had witness statements from everyone in the case but waited until April 1 to email the girl’s parents a “Notice of Extension for Good Cause” until April 30 due to criminal proceedings.
In his email, the investigator wrote, “We are trying to let something take place in the courts so that the other student has more freedom to participate in the process here at school.”
“It just feels like they’re stalling,” the girl’s father said.
Title IX lawyer: School district being ‘reckless and irresponsible
“If the school district is looking to gain some kind of information here from the perpetrator, it’s not going to happen,” said attorney Igor Raykin, who has litigated Title IX cases before.
“The school district here is being reckless and irresponsible and is prioritizing the rights of the perpetrator over the rights of the victim,” Raykin said. He told FOX31 Title IX investigations are typically done in two to three months and there is no reason this case should be ongoing five months later.
“There’s only two months left in the school year,” Raykin said. “This child is being re-traumatized every time that she sees this student.”
Raykin told the Problem Solvers he is shocked the boy hasn’t faced expulsion proceedings and said at the very least, the 17-year-old should’ve been transferred or asked to attend school remotely while the Tile IX investigation was proceeding.
“Every single time that I’ve seen a juvenile charged with some time of a sex offense against another student, in the school or even outside of the school, I will always without exception see some kind of expulsion proceedings occur,” said Raykin.
Raykin said Title IX investigations are supposed to occur separate from criminal investigations and should not be stalled until the criminal process is complete.
“Title IX investigations should continue to move forward regardless of what is happening with the criminal investigation, that’s another aspect of this that’s really unusual and actually quite concerning as well,” said Raykin, who found the district’s reason to delay problematic.
“I don’t understand why they have to pause anything and I don’t see this as good cause. They have a great deal of information here,” said Raykin referring to all the witness statements.
Cherry Creek School District responds
The girl’s father told FOX31 his daughter feels like the district had let her down, “Absolutely she has told us that multiple times that she feels like this process is taking way too long.”
The teenage suspect appeared in juvenile court on April 11. His case was continued until June, after the school year ends.
After the suspect’s court hearing, the girl’s parents said the district’s Title IX investigator told them by phone he expected to reach a conclusion by the end of this week.
In a statement to FOX31, the Cherry Creek School District shared the following:
“Cherry Creek School District takes all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and is committed to following applicable federal laws and regulations, including Title IX, as well as Cherry Creek School District board policies, to address all allegations of sexual harassment. In the situation you reference, CCSD has followed both Title IX and CCSD Board policies. CCSD also works collaboratively with law enforcement, and within the parameters set in federal regulations to ensure a safe learning environment for all students. CCSD is restricted by law, including FERPA, from sharing student information or commenting on specific student matters and Title IX investigations.
“If parents have further concerns related to their student, they may file an internal equity complaint with CCSD’s Equity Compliance Officer or they may report any concerns they have to the Office for Civil Rights, the federal agency with authority to address CCSD investigations under Title IX.”