Former Everitt student says she was groped dozens of times

Jeffco school principal accused of ignoring evidence

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/21/20

A parent of a former Everitt Middle School student has filed a complaint against Jeffco Public Schools, alleging the district ignored evidence in 2017 that the student had been sexually assaulted by …

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Former Everitt student says she was groped dozens of times

Jeffco school principal accused of ignoring evidence

Posted

A parent of a former Everitt Middle School student has filed a complaint against Jeffco Public Schools, alleging the district ignored evidence in 2017 that the student had been sexually assaulted by her classmates on school grounds.

The school responded last week with a letter to Everitt parents, saying that “most of the allegations, if not all of them, have no merit.”

Jeffco Public Schools chief legal counsel Craig Hess was not available for comment last week.

According to the complaint filed in Nov. 2019, the student informed administrators in May of 2017 that she had been groped by two male classmates multiple times that year.

The complaint says the school administration then interviewed the two accused students and obtained “confessions by each,” with one student stating his actions were nonconsensual. The complaint accuses administrators of failing to act on the information.

The student’s mother, on behalf of the student — both anonymous in the complaint — has requested damages from the district, Superintendent Jason Glass, former principal Jeff Gomez and William “Tim” Carlin, the school’s former assistant principal. The complaint alleges that the student, now 16 years old, was regularly harassed by multiple male classmates as a seventh-grader at Everitt in 2016 and 2017.

According to the complaint, when the female student first enrolled, older students told her and her classmates that every week “on Tuesdays, boys would touch girls’ breasts in the hallways…(and) on Fridays, boys would touch girls’ buttocks in the hallways.” The complaint goes on to allege that students viewed the occurrences as tradition and commonly referred to them using profane nicknames.

The “culture of sexual harassment and assault dates back to at least 2010,” the complaint claims.

The allegation is that during the 2016-2017 academic year, the female student was harassed and assaulted by two particular male students more than 60 times. On multiple occasions, the male students are accused of having held her against a wall or locker, slipped their hands underneath her clothing and groped her, “laughing and continuing when she said no and cried.”

The female student’s mother says she learned about the incidents in May 2017. The complaint states that the student had not mentioned the incidents before then because she “believed that this was normal or that another complaint would do no more good than past complaints.”

According to the complaint, the student’s mother contacted the Wheat Ridge Police Department (WRPD) and met with the assistant principal, Carlin, the next day. During the meeting, Carlin asked the student to fill out an incident report.

The mother’s complaint states that Carlin put together an investigative report, later given to the WRPD, showing that he had taken statements from both male students “with confessions by each, including one confession stating that their conduct was nonconsensual.” It accuses Carlin of failing to inform the police at the time he collected the statements in May 2017, and instead only providing his report to officers in the fall of 2017 after the department requested it.

The female student was taken out of classes in May 2017 to avoid conflict with the two boys, who were in the classes with her. But at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Everitt administrators allegedly placed the girl in classes with the same male students, according to the complaint, which goes on to say that administrators chose to not transfer the boys out of the classes, but had the female student transferred to “lower performing classes” instead.

The two male students were removed from the school when a restraining order was issued against them at the female student and her mother’s request, according to the mother’s complaint.

The male students “subsequently (pleaded) guilty to crimes for their sexual assaults,” following the eventual filing of charges by the Wheat Ridge police.

The WRPD could not confirm its role in the case, and does not have any files related to this case, said communications manager Sara Spaulding. When juvenile cases are sealed, documents are not releasable, and records may be expunged in some instances, meaning they do not exist from a legal standpoint, she said.

According to the complaint, the female student later left the district because of bullying from students who had heard about the incident.

Carlin was hired as principal at another district school, Wheat Ridge’s Peak Expeditionary School, in 2018. Gomez retired from his position in 2019.

Gomez could not be reached for comment.

Carlin and the current principal at Everitt Middle School, JoAnn Euler, could not comment because they are not authorized to speak on the district’s behalf in legal matters, said media relations director Cameron Bell.

Euler sent a letter to Everitt families on Jan. 13 to address the media attention the case has received.

“The (district) team reviewed the factual allegations with the individuals closest to the matter and have determined most of the allegations, if not all of them, have no merit,” the letter said in part. “Outside counsel will be formally responding to the complaint with Jeffco School District’s denials. Everitt staff are committed to providing a safe learning environment where all students are treated with dignity and respect.”

Section JBB of district policy requires district employees to report to the principal if they “witness or believe that a student has been subjected to sexual harassment.” The principal or a designee must then conduct an investigation and resolve the matter. One option is an informal resolution, which in this case, would have been a meeting between administration, the female student and the two male students.

The lawsuit complaint did not indicate whether such a meeting ever took place.

If a student does not agree to an informal resolution, the principal must encourage the student to fill out a formal complaint. The principal must then complete an investigation within 20 school days, the policy states.

The policy requires that the principal or designee ensures harassment does not continue and the student who filled out the complaint is safe.

“Jeffco Public Schools is committed to providing a working and learning environment that is free from sexual harassment,” reads the district’s sexual harassment reporting notice. “Sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

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