DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver County Court Judge has dismissed criminal charges against a former East High School principal and three other staff members who were charged with failing to report a sexual assault of a female student at the high school.
In a five page written ruling, Denver County Court Judge Gary Jackson wrote multiple times that the defendants — Andy Mendelsberg, Anita Curtiss, Jann Peterson and Eric Sinclair — “were acting in good faith in carrying out their school duties as school administrators” in the case.
Marshall Breit, a defense attorney in the case, told CBS4 Tuesday night, the four defendants “are relieved that these cases are over and that the court determined that they, at all times, acted in good faith in carrying out their duties as mandatory reporters.’
The criminal charges stemmed from an incident in 2016 in which a 14-year-old girl accused the administrators of failing to properly report her rape to authorities while protecting the male student. He later pleaded guilty to sexual assault.
Last April, the Denver District Attorneys office charged the East High administrators with failing to report the sexual assault to law enforcement. Each was charged with child abuse and failure to report.
The girl said she had gone to a male classmates house to watch a movie when the sexual assault occurred. She said she told administrators what had happened, but they failed to act.
Judge Jackson found in his ruling that Curtiss, a school psychologist, “reported all her contacts” with the victim.
“The court finds that there is no basis in fact to believe Ms. Curtiss had any motivation to keep the sexual incident between (the victim) and (the suspect) a secret.” Jackson went on to say he found Curtiss’ testimony “credible”
Jackson said he also found the testimony of Eric Sinclair, a school Dean, credible. “The court finds no evidence that Mr. Sinclair had a motivation to protect (the suspect) from police investigation of the alleged unlawful sexual contact.”
One of the defendants, former East High School principal Andy Mendelsberg, told CBS4 he was “relieved” at the ruling.
“We would never hurt kids. The truth came out. We did what we were supposed to do all the way through,” said Mendelsberg.
CBS4 attempted to seek comment from the Denver District Attorney’s Office about the ruling, but an office spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email and phone call.
The judge found a Denver Police detective investigating the rape case used a “deceptive investigation technique” when questioning each defendant. Jackson said the detective asked questions about the rape case, but did not reveal to the defendants that they were being investigated for possible violations of the Mandatory Reporting Law.
Jackson said that technique “causes the court concern.”