(CBS4) – Multiple parents of students in the Jefferson County School District have told CBS4 that a form of hazing led to a criminal charge against the athletic director of Chatfield Senior High School for failing to report child abuse or neglect. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Chatfield Athletic Director Craig Aukland, 40, was cited for the misdemeanor charge on Aug. 27, because he is a mandatory reporter under state law.
The summons and complaint obtained by CBS4 says the alleged incident in question took place at Chatfield Senior High School on July 26. A school district spokesperson told CBS4 that “the situation centers on an event for a private baseball team of students who recently completed middle school.” The spokesperson acknowledged Aukland had a direct relation to one of the accused students.
Whatever led to the charge against Aukland, and the administrative leave for Chatfield Principal Chad Broer, has been kept secret and has left parents wondering. Several say their understanding is that the alleged incident involved student hazing.
In an email to Chatfield parents last week, the school district said Aukland and Broer had been placed on administrative leave “due to allegations of failing to follow district safety protocols.”
“Please do not interpret an investigation as an indication of wrongdoing by our administrators, investigating allegations are part of our normal procedures in these types of situations,” the email said.
Broer did not respond to an inquiry from CBS4. But Aukland, reached by phone on Monday, said whatever happened, “had nothing to do with the school.” He declined to provide additional details, referring questions to his attorney, who did not respond to calls or messages from CBS4.
A CBS4 investigation found this was not Aukland’s first encounter with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Court records show in March 2002, the sheriff’s office cited Aukland for an “underage alcohol offense.” Within two months, the case was dismissed after Aukland “successfully completed the youth alcohol intervention program.”
He faced a similar charge in Douglas County in 1998, when he was charged with a petty offense for consumption of alcohol by a minor. Court records show that case was dismissed and closed out within four months.
Lakewood police arrested Aukland in 2002 for assault and harassment. Records show the assault charge was dismissed after Aukland pleaded guilty to the harassment charge. In that case, Lakewood police wrote that Aukland “intentionally and recklessly injured Robert Gonzales by hitting.”
Cameron Bell, a spokesperson for the school district, said the district was unaware of Aukland’s alcohol-related offenses when he was hired in 2006. Late Tuesday afternoon, she told CBS4 those offenses should have disqualified Aukland from going to work for the school district.
Aukland did not comment on his past criminal cases.
Bret McGatlin, head coach for Chatfield’s football team, told CBS4 the alleged incident that triggered the criminal charge against Aukland occurred at a “youth event.”
“It had nothing to do with the football team,” said Mcgatlin. “It did not happen within our football program. It’s not a football thing.”
McGatlin declined to offer any additional information.
Aukland is due in court Oct. 29 on the misdemeanor charge.