By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) – Brian Vasquez, a former teacher at Prairie Middle School, pleads guilty to three counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, pattern of abuse; one count of sexual exploitation of a child; one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child; and one count of internet sexual exploitation of child.
“This sentence is unprecedented in this county. I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone on these charges plead to what is the equivalent to 40 to life,” said District Attorney George Brauchler.
The 34 year old was accused of sex crimes against five of his former students, but plead guilty to the biggest charges against him. Brauchler believes his sentence will range anywhere from 40 years to life in prison.
The victims were not present for the plea, but an attorney for four of the five said they will likely speak at Vasquez’s sentencing.
“They are looking forward to speaking to the court about how their worlds have just been completely turned upside down and how they will likely never be the same again,” said Qusair Mohamedbhai of Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC.
Vasquez pleaded not guilty to 41 counts in March. He was arrested in August of 2017 after a former student told her father she exchanged sexually explicit text messages with Vasquez.
The suspect admitted to sexually explicit text messages to four other students. Officials say Vasquez later had sex with at least two of the underage girls.
Vasquez was fired from the Cherry Creek School District in September.
In January, three school staff members, a school prinicipal, a dean and a counselor, were indicted for failing to report child abuse when they were approached by one victim in 2013.
While prosecutors dismissed the charge against the school’s counselor, both the school’s principal and dean face a misdemeanor charge for failure to report. They are on leave until their cases are resolved.
While Monday’s plea was a relief for the victim’s, prosecutors say all five are in this position because the school brushed claims of abuse under the rug.
“This would’ve been very easy to prevent this tragedy but Cherry Creek chose to do something completely opposite of their legal responsibilities,” said Mohamedbhai.
Brauchler says the problem, failure to report, is bigger than just one institution. He reiterated what he has said in the past, that teachers are not investigators.
“They get information and then they are required to report it. That is all. When that fails to happen and other victims creep up, you’re gonna see things like this and this is what we want to prevent.”
Vasquez faces 40 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28.
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Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.