AURORA — A former middle school teacher in the Cherry Creek School district who admitted to sexually abusing students will spend at least 40 years in prison.
According to a grand jury indictment, Brian Vasquez had an inappropriate sexual relationship with his first victim in 2013. Since then, he has admitted to engaging in an improper sexual relationship with four other girls.
He was sentenced on Friday, and the parole board will determine if he should serve a longer sentence that the minimum of 40 years.
“He knew it was wrong. He knew at some point he would be caught," Special Prosecutor Cara Morlan said after the sentencing. “Those that commit these kinds of crimes will be held accountable”
Vasquez, 35, pleaded guilty in July to three counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, pattern of abuse, a Class 3 felony; one count of sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 3 felony; one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony; and one count of internet sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony.
Vasquez was a teacher at Prairie Middle School and was arrested in August 2017.
Qusair Mohamedbhai, the lawyer for the victims, said two of the girls are still working on their mental health in an effort to return to school. One of them is about to graduate high school, and the other two are now in college.
He said the victims didn't just want Vasquez to be punished, and that they also hope his sentence will deter other perpetrators from committing similar crimes.
Two school administrators have also been indicted in connection to the incidents: Adrienne (“AJ”) Macintosh, was a dean at the school, and David Gonzalez was the school principal. According to the indictment, a teen girl reported the abuse to them in 2013.
Instead of reporting the abuse to law enforcement, as required by law, the indictment says Macintosh and Gonzalez told the victim that her testimony would damage the career and life of a good teacher.
When the victim recanted, she was suspended from school for the purported reason that she "made up a false allegation against Vasquez," according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, both said they knew the rules of mandatory reporting of child abuse to law enforcement.
But Macintosh told the grand jury while she never had any type of training in investigation procedures, she believed it was her individual responsibility to conduct her own personal investigation. Macintosh also told the grand jury she had no memory of the 14-year-old girl disclosing sexual abuse by Vasquez.
Gonzalez testified to the grand jury that he too had no memory of the victim disclosing abuse by Vasquez. The indictment also says Gonzalez said he didn’t remember any disciplinary proceedings against the victim.
Earlier this week, the Cherry Creek School District announced it would pay an $11.5 million settlement to the victims.
“We acknowledge that no amount of money can right the wrongs committed against these students by Mr. Vasquez,” a statement released by Cherry Creek School District on Monday afternoon read. “No student should ever suffer the injury and loss of innocence that these young women suffered as a result of the reprehensible actions of Mr. Vasquez. The district is committed to doing right by these young women and their families and hopes this settlement brings some degree of closure so that they can move on with their lives and continue the healing process.”
In a letter to parents, the district said it was establishing a task force to review practices and procedures in wake of the incident. It is also working on training for all of its employees and implement pilot programs to give parents and students the skills to recognize and respond to inappropriate situations.
Taxpayers are paying $9.5 million of the settlement, a district spokesperson told 9NEWS. The other $2 million comes from an insurance company representing Cherry Creek Schools.