No Criminal Charges, But 3 Kent Students Not Coming Back
DENVER (CBS4)– Kent Denver, an elite private school in Englewood, has expelled one male junior and two other junior boys are also gone after all three were accused of sexual assault in a New Year’s Eve incident in Vail, even though the District Attorney declined to file criminal charges in the case.
“What they’ve done is grossly unfair,” said the father of one of the three boys, who agreed to speak exclusively to CBS4 on the condition his name and his son’s name not be used.
“Kent made a judgment at the outset that these boys are guilty and dangerous and everything that happened subsequently was consistent with that rush to judgment,” said the father. “I can’t explain it. At every turn I expected Kent to do the right thing and they have not done the right thing.”
Dr. Todd Horn, Kent’s head of school, declined to discuss the case with CBS4, “No story, no comment.”
“Schools aren’t going to comment on a student’s status,” said Horn.
A CBS4 Investigation obtained and reviewed hundreds of pages of police reports, photos, text messages, videos and documents related to the case which show the three Kent juniors received oral sex from a 16-year-old Kent female while all four were in Vail for New Year’s Eve.
The girl later said she was intimidated, bullied and pressured into the sex acts while the boys say it was consensual.
All the students are minors and none of the activities in Vail were part of an official school function.
Kent is a private school in Englewood for grades 6 through 12. The sprawling campus is home to 674 students. The case has turned students against students, class against class and family against family at the prestigious school.
Many Kent students found themselves in Vail for New Year’s Eve parties and festivities. The girl told Vail police investigators she ran into the three male students during the evening and agreed to return with them to the hot tub at the Arrabelle hotel and condominium complex in the Lionshead section of Vail.
She told authorities she had consumed one shot of vodka earlier in the evening. She went to the condo’s hot tub where she said all three boys had disrobed and were in the hot tub, nude.
“So then I got in the hot tub with them because I was cold,” the girl later told Vail detectives. “And so I took my shirt off and they all kind of ganged up on me a little bit there … and they kind of took my pants off and so I just had my underwear on so I got in the hot tub … I kind of figured I was getting into a bad situation. And they tried to help me take my pants off but I didn’t want them touching me so I obviously took my own pants off.”
“They were egging me on,” she said, “They succeeded in getting my bra off.”
The female student repeatedly told police she was frightened of where things were headed.
“I was just scared, I wanted to get out of there … if I didn’t get out of there now things were kind of going to go south with these guys,” she recounted.
At that point, she told police she got out of the hot tub and was wearing a jacket and a towel and left the boys to meet a female friend in a hallway. The girl says she then rejoined the boys in the hot tub area, hoping to retrieve her clothes and leave.
But she said one of the boys then took her into an adjacent towel room and demanded oral sex saying he wouldn’t return her clothes or allow her to leave until she complied.
“I was like, if I just cooperated … (the boy) would come back with my clothes and then I could leave. I was feeling really scared.”
After performing oral sex on the first boy, the 16-year-old girl then left the towel room by herself, covered by a jacket and towel, again meeting her best friend in an adjacent hallway.
“I went out in the hallway with her and we went to this other elevator on the other side of the floor and we just kind of stayed there and I was like, ‘I don’t really know what to do right now …’ and she was like, ‘I’m really sure that (one of the boys) will give you back your clothes if you just go back there’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know..’”
The girl then returned to the boys in the hot tub area.
Asked by police why she didn’t just leave, the girl said, “Because I still didn’t have my clothes and I was scared these are really large guys. I was scared and I was trapped … I just didn’t see any other way of me leaving because they had my clothes … I could have gone out in the hallway maybe and started asking some random person for help but there really wasn’t anyone around just a bunch of rooms I wasn’t really sure.”
After returning to the towel room, she told police the three boys refused to allow her to leave.
“You’re not leaving right now,” is what she recalls one of the boys saying.
“They were really scaring me,” she said.
A second boy then pressured her into again performing oral sex in the towel room.
The 16-year-old girl then said her friend returned again and they talked.
“I told her, listen they have my clothes and they’re not going to give them back until I give them all (oral sex) and I was really scared, and she like couldn’t contact anyone cause her phone wasn’t working …”
Questioned later by police, the friend said her phone was working fine that night. She also told investigators the boys did not seem intoxicated.
The sophomore student then said the third boy also pressured her into performing oral sex on him, which she did.
“I just felt a little bullied into like things I didn’t want to do.”
She said when it was over, one of the boys returned her clothes to her and she left.
“I felt pressured into it,” she said. “None of it was consensual from my point of view because I didn’t even want to kiss them from the beginning of the night.”
A police detective asked her if she thought the boys might have viewed the sex as consensual.
“Probably. They were really drunk so they probably didn’t know what’s consensual and what’s not and when to stop. They probably thought some of it was consensual.”
Why, asked a detective?
“I was kind of like kissing them,” responded the girl.
Reached by CBS4, the girl’s father declined to discuss the incident saying, “It would not be responsible or prudent to participate.”
The father of one of the teenage boys told CBS4 the sex between the students was consensual.
“No doubt. It was friends together on New Year’s Eve. They had some consensual sexual activity, they hugged good night and that was it. He was shocked, stunned when he heard there was an alternative view being described.”
The father says he believes his son, and all the other teenagers, made poor ethical choices that night.
The father says he believes the girl was remorseful for what she did and fabricated the sexual assault.
“She probably was embarrassed to be with multiple boys over the course of an evening. Somebody found out about it and perhaps she felt bad about it and got caught up in this story.”
Vail police investigated the case for several months, turning their findings over to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who declined to file criminal charges saying only, “We couldn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Hurlbert wouldn’t elaborate on his reasoning, but CBS4 has also learned that one of the three boys took a polygraph test which was turned over to police and prosecutors.
The test, administered by former FBI special agent Kenneth Vardell, showed the boy was being truthful when he said he did not force or coerce the girl into oral sex and believed it was consensual.
CBS4 also obtained text messages related to that night. On New Year’s Day, less than 12 hours after the incident, the girl sent a text message to another male student from Kent who she had seen New Year’s Eve.
“But u shouldn’t have gotten so drunk because I wanted to hook up! But I have this issue with taking advantage of my drunk friends:) eek.”
“To me that doesn’t sound like someone who has been traumatized,” said the father of one of the alleged assailants.
The girl told police she was upset that night and the next morning about what had occurred and communicated her concerns to friends. But she did not report the incident to any authority figures.
It came to the attention of officials several days later, after a male friend of the girl told Kent administrators what he had heard about New Years Eve in Vail, and those administrators then immediately notified the girl’s parents, who in turn contacted Vail police.
The father who spoke to CBS4 calls his son’s expulsion “a travesty.” He says Kent apparently expelled his son for violating the school’s code of conduct by drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual conduct.
“The boys engaged in one sexual act and she engaged in three,” he says, questioning why she hasn’t been kicked out of school for her conduct.
“It’s rampant political correctness and gender bias,” he concludes. “Had they treated all the kids the same — either way — I would have been comfortable. Instead Kent showed a pervasive bias. They made a politically correct judgment up front and judged these boys to be guilty from the beginning then were unwilling to consider the real facts. It was unconscionable the way Kent handled this and I told them that I didn’t believe their actions would stand up to public scrutiny. If the conduct was unbecoming, there were four people engaged in unbecoming conduct. How do these kids get cleared by professional investigators after an extensive investigation and then you kick them out. How do you do that?”
Attorneys for the two other boys involved did not respond to an email inquiry from CBS4. Both of those students have also left Kent and have apparently signed legal “non-disparagement” agreements that prevent them from suing the school or saying anything negative about the school.
The father of the third boy, who spoke to CBS4, said he refused to sign such an agreement.
He said he is strongly considering filing a lawsuit against Kent.
“We have to move towards litigation,“ he said. “How do I fix this? This is simply not fair. We can’t let them get away with it. We’ve got to stand up and hold this up to public scrutiny. I want to seek some sort of exoneration for my son. By throwing them out implies guilt. The school has basically branded him and I have to try to undo that.”
Following his son’s expulsion, and the news that the two other boys would also not be returning to Kent, the female student at the center of the incident hosted a party May 18 at her Cherry Hills Village home for her Kent classmates. CBS4 obtained a copy of the electronic invitation for the post prom party.
“This can’t get completely out of control like my birthday. Also I will gladly take your keys and you can just sleep here if you plan on drinking and driving:),” read the girl’s invitation.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com