A former student at Boulder’s Fairview High School is scheduled to go on trial in a sexual assault case Monday, becoming at least the third former student to publicly face sexual assault allegations over the last three years as the school wrestles with what students say has been a campus culture tolerant of sexual violence.
The ex-student, who The Denver Post is not identifying because he is charged in juvenile court, is accused of sexually assaulting a girl while the two were students at Fairview High School in the spring of 2017, according to a Boulder police investigative report obtained by The Post through an open records request.
The assault allegedly happened at another student’s house, while a group of students were hanging out in the home’s basement after some had been drinking alcohol. The victim told Boulder investigators that the ex-student, who played on Fairview’s football team, pinned her to a couch and groped and assaulted her, even though she told him not to and repeatedly said that he was hurting her, the police report says.
The ex-student then took the victim’s hand and moved it inside his pants, but became frustrated when the girl did not move her hand, she told police. The Post does not identify victims of sexual assault.
“He started to get really frustrated with me and was like, ‘Just do it,’” the victim said, according to the police report. “And like… ‘Just do what I say.’ That kind of thing.”
The ex-student became angry and got up off the girl and left, the victim told police in May 2020. The girl initially told only a close friend about the incident, but later decided to report it to police after participating in a sexual assault therapy group and hearing about other alleged assaults reported by students, the police report says.
“(She) advised it felt ‘safer’ to report now,’” the report reads.
After a seven-month investigation by Boulder police, the ex-student was arrested in December 2020, according to the police report, and was charged with four counts of felony sexual assault, two counts of misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact and a sentencing enhancer, according to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office.
Witnesses interviewed by Boulder police at the time said the ex-student was known to push female students against lockers in the hallways at school and grope them, the police report shows. One witness described the former student as having a long “history of doing really disgusting things to girls.”
Juvenile court records are secret in Colorado and additional details on the court case were not available. It was also not clear whether the ex-student has an attorney; the Boulder County Clerk of Court’s Office would not identify the defense attorney listed on the case when asked Tuesday.
The ex-student and his parents could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The trial comes as students at Fairview High School head back to class this month for the 2022-2023 school year.
The high school has a new principal, Scarlet Chopin, after the school’s longtime principal, Don Stensrud, retired following a school board investigation last year into his handling of students’ sexual assault complaints. He also was investigated by Boulder police for obstructing their criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault by a student, though he was not charged.
Chopin said in an Aug. 4 email to parents reviewed by The Post that the ex-student who is going to trial Monday has not attended Fairview since 2019. Boulder Valley School District spokesman Randy Barber said Tuesday that the student transferred from Fairview to another school in the district and graduated in April 2020.
Chopin also pledged to be transparent with parents and share “tough information” with them “before you hear it in the rumor mill or media.”
“The timing is unfortunate,” she wrote about the trial. “I would have liked to welcome students back to school without this hanging over our heads.”
The school’s reckoning with what students said was a culture disrespectful toward women and girls began after the school’s star quarterback, Aidan Atkinson, was arrested on sex assault charges in 2019 in connection with alleged assaults on a party bus the prior year.
Atkinson was acquitted at trial of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault in April 2021, and the next month pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor harassment as part of a plea deal for other charges connected with the case.
In a separate case, a former lacrosse player at the high school was convicted in February of raping three students and sentenced to 90 days in jail followed by two years of probation. Two of those victims have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Boulder Valley School District, alleging school officials knew the athlete was accused of sexual assault but did nothing to protect students at school.
That lawsuit is ongoing.
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