As if it weren’t enough that the victims of sexual assault in schools carry their pain and trauma into adulthood and often for the rest of their lives, school districts often face the payment of huge settlements to try and make up for the placement of a pervert in the classroom.
Cherry Creek School District in Arapahoe County, Colorado, has reached a $11.5 million settlement with five victims of abuse by one Brian Vasquez, a 34-year-old former social studies teacher at Prairie Middle School. He has pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse, and according to officials, has admitted to sending explicit text messages to all five victims and having sex with at least two of them.
That’s not all: it emerged that one victim attempted, way back in 2013, to report the abuse to school officials, including a principal and counselor, who did nothing with the information. Both were indicted on misdemeanor charges for failing to report the allegations to police. It’s alleged that at the time the victim made the allegations, she was not only forced to recant her statements and apologize to her abuser, but was then suspended from school.
Cherry Creek School District encompasses 65 schools in the Denver/Aurora area. In their budget report they project the per-student spending for the 2018-2019 school year to average about $8,100. The $11.5 million settlement paid to the 5 victims equates to the education budget for over 1400 students within the district. Two million dollars will come from the district’s insurance policy (because, hey, you’ve got to be prepared for things like this, am I right?), and the remaining $9.5 million will come from budget reserves.
Prairie Middle School has received a poor grade of 3/10 from GreatSchools, citing test scores well below the national average and lack of support for lower income children (who make up about 75% of the student body). Parent feedback about the school is mixed.
Vasquez will be sentenced later this week, where he faces up to 40 years in prison. He taught at Prairie Middle School for seven years. Prior to that, he worked in two other Colorado school districts.
Vasquez has two young children.