Who is Tay Anderson? Denver school board member accused of sexually abusing more than 60 DACA students
Tay Anderson has vehemently denied the accusations, but has stepped back from 'everyday board functions' pending an independent investigation
A Black Lives Matter protest leader and gun control activist who serves as a school board member in Denver is reportedly facing dozens of sexual abuse, rape, harassment, and "inappropriate behavior" allegations from community members, including more than 60 high school students and undocumented immigrants in the DACA program, with one of the alleged victims being as young as 14. Denver school board member Tay Anderson has vehemently denied the accusations, but on Sunday he said he would step back from “everyday board functions” pending an independent investigation into sexual assault allegations against him, according to Chalkbeat Colorado.
The school board announced in a separate statement that Anderson will still be allowed to vote on key issues during the probe, but will not attend school or district meetings with staff or students, a Denver Public Schools spokesperson said. Anderson made his decision to take a step back two days after the school board announced it was aware of the accusations against him.
An investigation was launched by the school district after civil rights group Black Lives Matter 5280 revealed how a woman came forward in March to report that Anderson had sexually assaulted her. Aside from that, some former members of the anti-gun violence group Never Again Colorado alleged that Anderson had engaged in inappropriate behavior when he served as the group's president in 2018.
This week, Denver mom Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming testified before a Colorado legislative committee that at least 62 young people, most of whom were high schoolers, approached her since August seeking help and protection from a "specific man in a position of trust." According to her, the alleged victims had experiences abuse ranging from unwanted touching to violent rape, according to Chalkbeat Colorado.
That said, Anderson has strongly denied any wrongdoing. On Sunday, he said he expected to be cleared of the accusations and return to his duties.
He released his own statement saying in part, “These allegations are troubling and must be investigated. We must ensure Denver Public Schools is a safe space for all students, and we must build systems in our district that continually protect our students from any possibility of harm while in our care.”
Statement from Director Anderson: pic.twitter.com/xafuE8YJwB— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) May 29, 2021
The Denver Post reported how Brooks Fleming, a parent of three DPS students, testified to the state House Judiciary Committee there is “a sexual predator targeting DPS children." Her testimony reportedly came in support of a bill that would make it easier for sexual abuse victims to sue institutions that employed their abusers.
Brooks Fleming said that 62 accusers had approached her for help regarding a single individual, albeit she did not name that person. She said that their experiences ranged from unwanted touching to “violent acts of rape" and that 61 of them lacked documentation or were recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. One of them was as young as 14, she added.
“Those who came to my home didn’t have health insurance, couldn’t afford emergency rooms, and even if they could, they wanted to avoid mandatory reporters for fear that such an interaction could jeopardize their family,” Brooks Fleming said in her testimony. “It is horrifying to realize that someone had preyed on these children, knowing their silence was guaranteed.”
Rapist in Denver Public Schools, Testimony on SB21-088 https://t.co/eSI5pr1qsv— Coach MK👟/Your Protest Mom ❤️🍪🥛 (@CoachMKFleming) May 26, 2021
The Denver Public Schools Board of Education shared a statement with the Denver Post on Friday night. “The Board was made aware of testimony at the Colorado Capitol this week and was later informed that the accusations were against Director Tay Anderson. The Denver police are also aware of these accusations," it said.
Jay Casillas, a department spokesman, told the newspaper in an email that the Denver Police Department’s investigators had spoken with Brooks Fleming about her comments, but were yet to hear from any victims directly. “If someone is a victim, we encourage them to contact Denver Police,” Casillas reportedly wrote.
Anderson has reportedly been under investigation by the school district for a single sexual assault allegation since early April. In a statement to the Post, his lawyer Christopher Decker wrote, “Nothing is worse or more unacceptable than the harm caused by sexual assault upon our children, or the related harm caused by not believing those who have been victimized in this way. This is also why false assertions of these horrible crimes act to cheapen and diminish its importance. It is because of these two truths that responsible people and organizations must carefully investigate such inflammatory claims completely, and with an open and fair process.”