Denver District Attorney Beth McCann will appeal a judge’s decision to throw out charges against four current and former administrators at East High School who had been accused of failing to call police after learning of a student’s allegation she’d been sexually assaulted.
In a Jan. 27 ruling, Denver County Judge Gary M. Jackson had concluded “that at all times the defendants were acting in good faith and carrying out their duties as school administrators” in their contacts with the girl and her parents.
As a result, Jackson dismissed the charges against former East principal Andy Mendelsberg, former vice principal Jann Peterson, dean Eric Sinclair and counselor Anita Curtiss.
In a filing made public Monday morning, McCann appealed Jackson’s ruling, indicating she was challenging the conclusion that the administrators were immune from prosecution under Colorado law.
The four were accused of repeatedly failing to call police after learning that a female East student had reported being inappropriately touched by a male classmate in March 2016. A judge had earlier dismissed a charge against a fifth East administrator after she argued successfully that in her case the statute of limitations had run out – something prosecutors are appealing.
Mendelsberg, Peterson, Sinclair and Curtiss had each been charged with a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Curtiss had faced an additional count, negligent child about without injury.
Colorado law requires educators, doctors, pastors and a host of others to call police if they know, suspect or are told that a child has been abused.
In court documents previously obtained by 9Wants to Know, Denver police and prosecutors disputed the assertion of district officials that the administrators had properly reported the allegation.
The controversy started in March 2016 when a female East student told a dean that a male classmate had touched her inappropriately.
In his ruling, Jackson wrote that “the court finds and concludes that by a preponderance of evidence that the testimony of witnesses and exhibits illustrate that the defendants were acting in good faith carrying out their duties as school administrators.”
As a result, “each is immunity from criminal prosecution and personal civil liability” under Colorado law.
He also wrote that the detective working on the case did not reveal to any of the administrators that they were the subject of a criminal investigation.
That fifth East administrator, Dean Jennifer Sculley, was also initially charged with failing to report the incident. However, she argued that the statute of limitations absolved her of criminal charges – she allegedly learned of the incident in March 2016 but wasn’t charged until April 2018. That was beyond the 18-month statute of limitations in the case, a judge ruled in dismissing the case.
McCann also appealed that ruling, contending that failing to report the allegation to police is a continuing crime. A decision on that appeal is pending.
Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-871-1862.
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