Story Archive

When the Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Crime

In August, Brian Vasquez, 34, a social studies teacher at Prairie Middle School in Aurora, Colo., was arrested, charged with sexual abuse. Now, Principal David Gonzales and Assistant Principal Adrienne MacIntosh are also in trouble: when the student complained about Vasquez three years prior, they “impress[ed] upon her the devastating effects her disclosure would have on his career and family,” and urged her “to recant her disclosure of sexual abuse by Vasquez,” investigators say. When the frightened 14-year-old did as they demanded, Gonzales and MacIntosh forced the girl to apologize to Vasquez and hug him — and then suspended her for “making up” the accusation. Vasquez now admits he did abuse the girl, and went on to victimize “several” other children. Vasquez, who has been teaching full time for 10 years, is charged with at least 31 felony child-sex counts. The school administrators, who claim they “don’t remember” the incident, have been charged with failing to report child abuse or neglect — a simple misdemeanor subject to a fine of $50-750, and zero to six months in jail. (RC/KMGH Denver) ...Which is how we know we have “courts of law” rather than “courts of justice.”
Story Update: School officials didn’t even get that slap on the wrist: a judge dropped the charges because the Statute of Limitations had long passed. In response, Colorado State Sen. Rhonda Fields introduced a bill to increase the time limit for charges to be filed for several crimes, including failure to report child abuse, from a mere 18 months to ...a mere 5 years. It was quickly passed and signed into law. Better than nothing, but not a lot better.

Meanwhile, Vasquez was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison, and the school district (read: taxpayers) agreed to pay an $11.5 million settlement to the five known children he abused. The school district also “changed its policy on mandatory reporting” to ...uh, well... follow the law regarding mandatory reporting.

Original Publication Date: 04 February 2018
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 24.

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