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District took a month to report sexual misconduct allegations against teacher to police, affidavit says

The Summit County Sheriff's Office said middle school teacher Leonard Grams, 61, is facing multiple counts of sex assault on a child.

FRISCO, Colo. — The Summit School District took a month to notify law enforcement of allegations that a middle school PE teacher touched several students inappropriately, an arrest affidavit says.

Leonard Grams, 61, turned himself in to Summit County deputies Tuesday. He faces five charges of sex assault on a child and three counts of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, the affidavit said. 

On Sept. 23, 2021, a teenager at Summit Middle School told a school staff member that Grams touched her breast, the affidavit said. She wrote a statement the following weekend that the school principal read on Sept. 30, the documents said.

"I was inappropriately touched on my body by a teacher during class," the student wrote in that statement. "I didn't know what to do because I have never been in a situation like this before and I was scared."

RELATED: Students accuse PE teacher of sexual misconduct

No one from the district told police of the allegation until Oct. 27 -- more than a month after the student first said something to school staff.

Summit Middle School Principal Greg Guevara conducted an investigation and determined the girl's claim "just wasn't sufficient," although the result could have gone "either way," the affidavit said. 

When two more girls came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching two weeks later, District Human Resources Director Grant Schmidt looked into the matter, the affidavit said. Schmidt decided "it did not sound like Mr. Grams did anything inappropriate." 

RELATED: Where victims of sexual abuse in Colorado can get help

In a recorded interview later shared with police, Schmidt told Grams, "We don't call police right away unless it's so dog on [sic] obvious," the affidavit said. 

"That's why we first talked to kids to see, is it really even anything here? And from the beginning after our first interaction, our discussion, I was just, it doesn't feel right. And that's why we chose not to [call police] just for that reason," Schmidt said, according to the affidavit. 

Summit School District policy says staff who have knowledge or reasonable suspicion that a student is the victim of abuse or neglect, including unlawful sexual behavior, "must immediately upon receiving such information report such fact" to the county sheriff's office or child protective services.

In addition, state law requires educators to immediately report abuse or suspected abuse. 

"Investigation is the job of child protective services or law enforcement," a document distributed by the Colorado Department of Education stated.  

When reached for comment, a Summit School District spokesperson said, "At this time, we are unable to comment on this personnel matter. Summit School District is working with and continues to cooperate with law enforcement and the district attorney." 

The district reached out to law enforcement on Oct. 27 after four additional students came forward with allegations of misconduct against Grams, the affidavit said. 

In all, seven students reported issues with Grams' behavior, ranging from touching of their butts and breasts to comments and "stares" that made them feel uncomfortable. Police sought charges based on three students' reports of misconduct.  

Fifth District Attorney Heidi McCollum said her office "is well aware" of the delay between the initial victim coming forward to school staff and when staff notified law enforcement. 

"At this time in the investigation, it is not appropriate for me to comment further," she said.

In a video statement released Wednesday, Superintendent Dr. Tony Byrd said the district will have an audit of its HR processes.

"I want to reassure you that I've read the affidavit," he said in the video. "I'm very aware of what's in there. I am now requiring an HR audit, in other words an audit of our human resource processes, and I am requiring all employees to complete the mandatory reporting training."

Lesley Mumford is a parent at the school who also runs the resource center for victims of assault in Summit County.

"[The students] spoke up, they told an adult, they did everything they were educated to do by adults -- only for a significant delay to be the result," she said 

"Trauma takes a significant time to work through even with the best of care and the best resources, so delaying somebody getting those resources is simply delaying that recovery, that healing time," Mumford said. 

When contacted by police, the mother of the first student to come forward with a report of inappropriate behavior said "she was advised by the school district that [her child] was lying because she got a bad grade in class." 

"False reporting is only between 2% and 10% [of sexual violence cases] depending on whose study you look at," Mumford said. "If we start from a place of believing young folks, we can immediately move into a healing space."

Mumford said delays in action after reports of abuse cause victims to not come forward with their experiences. 

"I feel like sitting on that information hurt," she said. 

Grams could not be reached for comment. In the affidavit, he denied any wrongdoing and said he felt "this was a coordinated attack against him." The affidavit said no similar claims of inappropriate behavior had been made against him in his nearly three decades with the district. 

If you have any information related to this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact cole.sullivan@9news.com

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