DENVER — The former principal at East High School and several other current and former administrators are facing criminal charges alleging they failed to report an alleged sexual assault of a student, 9Wants to Know has confirmed.
Andy Mendelsberg, who was ousted as East’s principal last year after being accused of failing to respond to reports that a cheerleading coach was physically forcing girls into the splits, and the others were served summonses late Monday afternoon, according to Ken Lane, spokesman for Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Also cited were Jann Peterson, a vice principal; Jen Sculley, a dean; Anita Curtiss, a counselor; and Eric Sinclair, a dean.
Lane said the allegations center on the response of the five stemming from a report from a female East student that she was sexually assaulted off campus in March 2016.
Colorado law requires educators– and others, like doctors and members of the clergy – to report such instances to police and child protective services.
“The statute is pretty simple,” Lane said. “If you as a school official … are told of an allegation of child abuse, or know of it, or learn of it, you are required to report it.”
In the case of educators, it does not matter whether an alleged incident occurred on school grounds.
Will Jones, the district’s director of media relations, issued a statement Tuesday night disputing the assertion that the administrators did not report it to police.
“We know how important it is to ensure that any student who has concerns about inappropriate or unlawful sexual behavior be fully supported and that concerns about abuse be promptly reported to law enforcement,” Jones said. “We shave strong policies and procedures in place to support students and are committed to ensuring a safe learning environment in our schools. Our records indicate that the district did notify the Denver Police Department of this incident in March 2016. We will continue to work with the police and District Attorney going forward to understand better their concerns in this case.”
Lane said that the each of the five administrators was allegedly told of the incident by either the girl or her parents, who ultimately went to Denver police in November 2017 and filed a report.
A source familiar with the investigation told 9Wants to Know that Mendelsberg and the other administrators are accused of failing to appropriately respond – specifically, that they not only dismissed the girl’s allegation but that they told the accused boy. The girl’s family felt retaliated against, the source said.
The citations were first reported by The Denver Post.
The following message was posted on the homepage of the East High website by current principal John Youngquist:
“Dear East High School Families,
“It is our priority to keep you informed about matters related to our school. You may hear in the media that the Denver District Attorney filed misdemeanor charges against five current and former East High School officials for failure to report an alleged sexual assault between two students that occurred off-campus in March 2016. Please know that, in addition to working with Denver police in the investigation of these allegations, we are doing all we can to support our students and families at East and throughout the district.
“We know how important it is to ensure that any student who has concerns about inappropriate or unlawful sexual behavior be fully supported and that concerns about abuse be promptly reported to law enforcement. As you know, we have strong policies and procedures in place to support students and are committed to ensuring a safe learning environment in our schools.
“Our records here indicate that our employees did notify the Denver Police Department of this incident in March 2016. We will continue to work with the Police and District Attorney going forward to understand better their concerns in this case.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all our students, at East High School and throughout Denver Public Schools. We will provide additional information when we can.
“I want to thank you for your support, patience and continued commitment to the students and families of East High School. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have questions or concerns.”