Denver’s school board director announced over the weekend that he is stepping away from his role until an investigation concludes into accusations of sexual assault.
Tay Anderson, a Democratic socialist, called the allegations unsubstantiated and false.
“These false claims have put my family and I in harms way and now as a father and son I must protect those I love first, therefore I will be stepping back from everyday board functions until the completion of an independent investigation,” Anderson said in a statement.
“I am confident the ongoing investigation will prove what I have said from day one and that is I have never sexually assaulted anyone. I look forward to returning in the coming months to continue the fight for Denver students,” he added.
During a state House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, parent Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming levied allegations against an unnamed person she described as “a sexual predator currently targeting DPS students.”
Fleming said she had received reports from 62 students directly, starting in August 2020. The group contains children as young as 14 and many are illegally in the country.
“They were all afraid of the same man to be perfectly clear that they could not whisper his name,” Fleming told lawmakers, adding that the kids relayed stories of being wrongly touched or even raped but were afraid to go to the police.
Anderson initially called the allegations “troubling” and urged authorities to investigate.
The Denver Public Schools Board of Education told news outlets in a statement that it was aware of Fleming’s testimony and was informed the person Fleming described is Anderson. The Denver Police Department was also aware of the accusations, the board said. A police spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that officials have talked with Fleming but that no alleged victims have yet come forward.
“If someone is a victim, we encourage them to contact Denver Police,” the spokesperson said.
Board members agreed with Anderson’s decision to step back from everyday functions, the board said in a statement. He will continue to vote on “necessary matters” that come before the board, including the hiring of a new superintendent, it said.
The board hired in mid-May an outside law group to investigate an earlier allegation against Anderson leveled by a local Black Lives Matter group.
A woman came forward in February to accuse Anderson of sexual assault, BlackLivesMatter5280 said the following month.
The alleged victim requested Anderson publicly apologize and seek help from a licensed professional. Anderson denied the accusation in a press conference.
“I have not sexually assaulted anyone. And I am not aware of a situation that can be construed as sexual assault,” he told reporters on March 28, adding that he would cooperate with an investigation into the allegation.
The board on Sunday encouraged anyone with relevant information to reach out to the Investigations Law Group.
“It is critically important that all individuals feel safe and supported to participate in this process, and the Board will use any and all authority it has to protect those who participate. Retaliation or intimidation of witnesses will not be tolerated and the district will report any witness intimidation or harassment to the police. We seek the truth and are committed to a fair and thorough process for all currently involved and anyone who is considering whether they should step forward,” it said.
A group that Anderson used to chair said he should resign from the school board.
“Director Anderson has lost the confidence of the students and families of his school district,” Spencer Wilcox, the current chair of the Colorado High School Democrats, said in a statement. “Students, including our many members in DPS, should not have to be afraid of one of their school members. He must resign.”
Christopher Decker, Anderson’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment. He told CBS4 in a statement that Anderson “categorically denies the most recent allegations which have been made against him.”
“He looks forward to defending himself from these false claims just as soon as they emerge from anonymity into the light of fair investigation,” he added. “To date, not a single allegation against Director Anderson has provided any time, place, individual, or details to which he can even respond. When and if this occurs, he will respond with specifics and corroborating evidence.”