The high cost of sexual assault in schools

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image courtesy Aurora Police Department

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.

School District Announces $11.5M Settlement With Students Sexually Assaulted By Teacher

Prairie Middle School teacher Brian Vasquez now faces 31 felony child sex charges

Cherry Creek School District to pay $11.5 million to 5 students who were sexually assaulted by a teacher

Cherry Creek School District Profile of Student-Based Budgeting for Schools FY2018-19

Prairie Middle School on GreatSchools.org

Former boarding school teacher charged with child rape

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image courtesy Milton Police Department

Thailand has a reputation as a center for child sex tourism and child prostitution. And that’s exactly where accused pedophile Reynold Buono had been living before his recent return to the United States, where he was then charged with child rape of a former student of his.

Buono, who pled not guilty to the charges, once led the theater department for over 10 years at Milton Academy, which is both a boarding and a day school in Milton, Massachusetts. He left the school in 1987, when he was approximately 43 years old, after acknowledging his molesting of a 14-year-old male student (where were the charges, then?). He’s since been living in Thailand for an undisclosed amount of time (some sources say he relocated to Southeast Asia shortly after leaving Milton Academy). American authorities traveled to Thailand last November, and in cooperation with the Royal Thai Police, arrested Buono and brought him back to the United States to face charges.

A private investigation last year revealed that Buono molested at least 12 male students during his tenure at Milton Academy. An attorney representing 5 of them (no word on if charges have been filed, in their case) said Buono did “incalculable damage” to the lives of these students. Court records filed in the rape case said Milton Academy’s headmaster knew Buono was allegedly abusing students as early as 1982 but let him remain on staff after he spoke to Buono’s psychiatrist. It makes one wonder how many other schools have suppressed information related to their staff’s criminal behavior.

Students at Milton Academy can expect to pay upwards of $60,000 a year to attend this school, which asserts that living on its 125-acre campus allows teens to “study and live in supportive, inclusive academic communities where they learn about independence and responsibility in the classroom and beyond.” I’d say a number of students learned way “beyond” what they bargained for, 30 years ago.

Ex-Milton Academy Teacher Captured In Thailand On Child Rape Charges

Former Milton Academy faculty member accused of student rapes is held on bail

 

North Carolina high school health teacher and track coach chokes student

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Brian Kelley was suspended with pay a month ago after a video surfaced showing him choking a student. He has since resigned from his job as a “healthy living” teacher and track coach at Apex High School in Apex, North Carolina.

We send our children to school, believing they will be safe there. But the assault on their well being comes from all sides: from the community, students, and teachers alike. Not every teacher is dedicated to your child. Unless you can personally vet every educator your child has (and even if you could), how will you know for sure what kind of person they are? Getting a “good teacher” is hit or miss. In a few months, as children return to school after summer vacation, parents around the country will gloat on social media about their children’s “great teachers.” It helps them feel like they didn’t just throw their kids to the wolves. But the reality is, children come in contact with a lot of school professionals over the course of one school day. Who’s to say one won’t be a pedophile, or have anger management issues, or maybe is just having a bad day and decides your child looks like an easy target?

Apex High School teacher resigns after video appears to show him choking student

 

Abusive teachers, repeat offenders

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

“Although abusive teachers make up only a fraction of 1% of the nation’s teaching corps, USA TODAY found dozens of teachers who lost one job after being accused of abusive behavior and had no trouble getting hired somewhere else.”

We all want to believe “our schools” are different, that it’s only in “other schools” that these things happen. But the truth is that they happen everywhere. Do you want to gamble with your child’s well being, and possibly his life?

Teachers who sexually abuse students still find classroom jobs

Teacher Allegedly Abducts Teen Student, Arrested

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image courtesy Google Maps

Google “girl runs off with…” and watch what word pops up next. Girl runs off with boyfriend? Five thousand dollars? Backpack full of stolen merchandise? Think again.

“Girl runs off with teacher,” is the top suggestion, for the pure reason that the incident mentioned below is most definitely not a unique one.

It is alleged that 50-year-old Tad Cummins, health sciences teacher at Culleoka High School in Culleoka, Tennessee where he’d been working for nearly 6 years, abducted 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas, evading authorities for more than a month as they traveled through the country, eventually being apprehended in northern California. Cummins is insistent that this is his first and only offense, which is supposed to endear us to his plight, but should only make us more suspicious of every other seemingly model citizen working in the school system. He says Thomas was in an abusive home, and he was apparently rescuing her. Never mind that he kissed her in school, prior to the abduction. Never mind that he had been married for 31 years (his wife wisely filed for divorce sometime during the abduction – he has two children, girls, it turns out). Never mind that whatever the reason (maybe Thomas asked him to take her with him, maybe she followed him, maybe she threatened him), she was FIFTEEN.

We should be grateful at least, that this particular child predator was an idiot. Cummins attempted to kayak with Thomas from San Diego to Mexico, when he realized the waters were too rough and they were being watched by a law enforcement officer. They elected to remain in California. If they’d made it, who knows if they ever would have been found.

Cummins is being held in federal custody on a charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for sexual intercourse. The charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. In Tennessee, Cummins is being charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor having sexual contact with a minor.

FBI agent reveals how Tad Cummins allegedly evaded police for weeks after abducting ‘brainwashed’ student

See Tad Cummins’ arrest affidavit: New details released since Elizabeth Thomas found safe