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Adams 14 ignored complaints about suspected pedophile

This story is the third installment of the Dishonor Roll series, which profiles troubled teachers who had no trouble staying or getting back into schools.

This story is the third installment of the Dishonor Roll series, which profiles troubled teachers who had no trouble staying or getting back into schools.

ADAMS COUNTY – As the criminal case moves forward against a teacher accused of molesting Adams 14 elementary students, 9Wants to Know reveals how Dupont Elementary staff and district officials didn’t take several prior warnings and complaints against Gilbert Trujillo seriously.

Trujillo is currently charged with multiple counts of sexual assault after several former students in his fourth and five grade classes have come forward claiming they were repeatedly groped, kissed and given love letters between 2005 and 2010.

“I’m just shocked in the way that the school district handled the Trujillo case,” said Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation (SESAME). “The school district must put children, and put the safety of children, above all else.”

FIRST INSTALLMENT: Broken discipline tracking systems let teachers flee troubled pasts

SECOND INSTALLMENT: Teacher deceived 5 school districts for years

Miller, SESAME’s president, reviewed some of the public records acquired by 9Wants to Know after the arrest of Trujillo in June 2015.

According to the criminal affidavit and discipline documents, at least three mothers and a co-worker filed complaints either with Dupont principals and the school board.

Allegations against Trujillo included touching girls inappropriately, lavishing them with expensive gifts, and writing love letters.

Even after complaints from parents and two verbal warnings issued to Trujillo, he was finally given a written reprimand in 2008. The letter, signed by former Dupont Principal Kathy Heronema, told Trujillo he could keep his job but had to abide by the following conditions:

-“Avoid touching or hugging students”

-Keep his “hands above or on the table.”

-Stop using the word “love” in class

Letter to Gilbert Trujillo

One of the alleged victims told investigators she was molested by Trujillo in 2010, two years after the letter was issued.

“It is deliberate child endangerment,” said Miller. “In my opinion it’s negligence. And I believe that your prosecutors should look into all aspects of the case.”

9Wants to Know attempted several times to get Heronema’s take on the case, but she refused to comment and referred questions to the Adams 14 school board. Heronema is now retired, according to the district.

At a February school board meeting, 9Wants to Know asked the board what it was currently doing to keep kids safe.

None of the elected officials answered but the school district’s attorney, Walter Kramarz, said the teacher-student conduct policy has been updated since Trujillo’s departure from the district.

“I think those policies are among the strictest in the state of Colorado,” Kramarz said.

The policy outlines behavior among teachers and students, including definitions of touching that could be perceived as harassment. Teachers are also discouraged to be alone with students.

Trujillo re-hired after complaints

In early 2011, documents show Trujillo resigned from the school district. Before his resignation, emails written by union representatives from the Colorado Educator Association suggest a deal was made for Trujillo to return to the district. A few months after his resignation, Adams 14 approved his re-hire as a substitute.

A spokesperson for the CEA refused to say if they were aware of the allegations and complaints surrounding Trujillo when they advocated on his behalf in 2011.

9Wants to Know attempted to get comment from CEA’s executive director at their downtown Denver offices, but were told by a receptionist management was out of town.

CEA’s spokesperson Mike Wetzel declined to speak after a third request.

(© 2016 KUSA)

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