All too often, we hear allegations about teachers like Terah Rawlings perving on underage students. But a kid being lured into an illicit relationship with a school janitor? Does that really happen?
Longmont Police officers think so, at least in the case of 24-year-old Travis Bowden and his reported victim, age thirteen.
According to Commander Jeff Satur of the Longmont Police Department, a deputy with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office found Bowden and the girl parked in a car early Saturday morning near Lagerman Reservoir. "They were clothed, but the deputy noticed that some of their clothing was in disarray. That led to questioning about sexual behavior," first at the scene, and later at the Longmont department.
In the beginning, Bowden reportedly denied that he and the teen had been engaged in a sexual relationship, only to subsequently accuse her of coming on to him in a way that fell just shy of intercourse. But Satur says the victim told another, very different story. Officers believe the pair have been coupling since August.
Bowden was a substitute janitor, so he filled in at many schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District. At this point, Longmont authorities don't believe Bowden met his victim on the job. Rather, they connected in the neighborhood where they lived. Still, Satur notes, "there's evidence of grooming behavior and things like that. So we're suspicious that there may be additional victims."
For that reason, Bowden's mug shot has not been released yet. In addition, Satur says "we're going to be sending letters to families in the school district and canvassing around the neighborhood, passing out letters that way. We want to identify kids who may have been victimized, if there are any others."
Bowden "generally worked in the afternoon and evenings, beginning at about 2:30," Satur points out. "We don't have any information to show that he was selecting or identifying victims by using his job and his position at the school to attract kids, but we're aware of that possibility."
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The last time Bowden was on the job? November 15. Today, however, he's scheduled for a 2 p.m. bond hearing related to a charge of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust -- a count that could be modified to simple sex assault on a child if it turns out his employment at a school was coincidental to the offense.
In other words, some clean-up may be in the offing -- just not the kind Bowden was once paid to perform.
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More from our Education archive: "Teachers arrested for sex crimes: Should schools have to notify parents? Teachers union says no."