DENVER (CBS4) – A teacher’s aide accused of sexually assaulting a student at Valdez Elementary School in Denver is also a founding board member and coach for the Denver Pirates Youth Baseball League.
The manager of the league and a fellow coach told CBS4 that news Matt Melendez’s arrest was a surprise. That league in North Denver is not in season right now but it has suspended Melendez during the investigation.
Jessica Buckley, Valdez’s principal, sent a letter to parents Friday informing them Melendez was being investigated and would not be in the school when students returned to class Monday.
Jose Valdez Elementary School is located at 2525 West 29th Ave.
An arrest affidavit states Melendez had been investigated for a similar allegation in April 2012 but no charges were filed because prosecutors did not believe they could get a conviction.
That same document says after that investigation was dropped, the mother says the principal at Valdez at the time — Peter Sherman — “forced” her son to apologize for “lying.” The mother became concerned again when she talked with her son about returning for this school year. The boy is now a 5th grader at Valdez.
That’s when she says he told her about sexual assaults that occurred in the last school year.
In the affidavit, the mother told investigators her son was sexually assaulted three times last year during recess. That’s when he was kept inside because he was supposedly in trouble and not allowed to go out with the other students.
In her letter, Buckley told parents there are counselors on hand if they feel they need extra resources when talking to their children.
Buckley also said investigators do not believe there are more victims, but advised parents to contact Denver police if they thought their children might have more information about the case.
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said Monday that keeping children is paramount to the district.
“We do thorough background checks on any and everyone who works in DPS,” Boasberg said. “I would say to any parent who has a concern to immediately discuss that concern with your school principal. We will be there to fully understand the circumstances, to investigate into any concerns and be there to make sure your kid is safe.”
Melendez faces charges including sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. He made a brief court appearance Monday. DPS has placed him on unpaid leave and he is not allowed to go into the school.
Peter Sherman, the former principal, released the following statement about the mother’s claim:
“In the follow-up support that was provided to the student and his family, there was never any time when I or any Valdez staff attempted to compel the student to apologize.”