Education

Tay Anderson's DPS Drama: Denials, Stepping Back, 62 Alleged Victims

Tay Anderson was sworn in as a member of the Denver School Board by his mother during a December 2019 ceremony.
Photo by Sara Fleming
Tay Anderson was sworn in as a member of the Denver School Board by his mother during a December 2019 ceremony.
The drama around Denver School Board member Tay Anderson that's been roiling since March 26, when Black Lives Matter 5280 released a claim that he had sexually assaulted an unidentified woman, exploded in recent days. In the wake of wide-ranging abuse charges before the Colorado Legislatature regarding an unnamed man "in a position of trust" involving 62 reported victims, Anderson has announced that he is stepping back "from everyday board functions" until the completion of an independent investigation into his activities.

Anderson has denied sexually assaulting anyone, and in a new statement, his attorney, Christopher Decker, rips the assorted assertions as false and stresses that "Director Anderson will be cleared of these poisonous and false claims."

At the time of the Black Lives Matter 5280 accusation, which is currently the subject of an investigation launched by the DPS board, Anderson was widely seen as a rising star in Denver politics and activism. Since then, his brand has been challenged on a number of fronts. Westword confirmed that Denver Public Schools had previously found that Anderson had used social media to retaliate against a whistleblower who'd reportedly been the victim of harassment by a former high school principal. Shortly after, new accusations surfaced from six female former colleagues, who say Anderson created an unsafe work environment at Never Again Colorado, an anti-gun organization that he presided over in 2018.

In addition, Campaign Integrity Watchdog, a local outfit run by Matt Arnold, filed a formal complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office that contended Anderson had failed to report thousands of dollars he'd solicited and accepted on GoFundMe pages created to cover medical expenses he incurred after he said he was assaulted by Denver police officers last July and to defray the cost of attending the September funeral of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


The latter motion was dismissed early last month, but the other matters were still lingering on May 25, when Denver Public Schools parent Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming offered testimony before the Colorado House judiciary committee. As reported by Chalkbeat, Brooks asserted that "62 young people — 61 high school students and one recent graduate — came to her starting in August for help and protection from a specific man 'in a position of trust.' She said 61 of the young people were either undocumented immigrants or recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program for immigrants. The allegations ranged from unwanted touching to 'violent acts of rape,' she said. The youngest person who came to her for help was fourteen years old, Brooks Fleming said. None wanted to report the adult to the police, she said, and the young people were so afraid 'they could not whisper his name.'"

Nor did Brooks identify the person about whom she spoke, but both Anderson and his attorney, Decker, responded to her words. Anderson's May 30 statement, issued on Twitter, reads:
These unsubstantiated false allegations have caused a great deal of trauma to our entire district, and our students deserve better.

These false claims have put my family and I in harms way and now as a father and son I must protect those I love first, therefore I will be stepping back from everyday board functions until the completion of the independent investigation.

I am confident the ongoing investigation will prove what I have said from day one and that is I have never sexually assaulted anyone. I look forward to returning in the coming months to continue the fight for Denver students.

I am not willing to be a distraction to the important work of Denver Public Schools or the important investigation which must occur at this time. I will not be making further comments until the investigation is completed at which time I intend to return to the job I was duly elected to.
Decker's May 31 remarks are lengthier and more explicit:
Director Anderson categorically denies the most recent allegations which have been made against him. He looks forward to defending himself from these false claims just as soon as they emerge from anonymity into the light of fair investigation. To date, not a single allegation against Director Anderson has provided any time, place, individual, or details to which he can even respond. When and if this occurs, he will respond with specifics and corroborating evidence.

To date, no law enforcement agency or government agency has reached out to Director Anderson with any specifics of any of these claims. To the extent that Ms. Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming has publicly stated that 62 victims have come to her claiming abuse ranging from unwanted touching to violent rapes, Director Anderson specifically denies any unlawful touching or assaults during his brief time as a teacher and since his election to the DPS Board. These acts never happened. Not a single child, parent, therapist, teacher, police officer, doctor, or individual has come forth to substantiate these incredible assertions.

Director Anderson implores DPS counsel to respond immediately to Ms. Brooks Fleming's allegations that DPS staff and legal counsel herself engaged in a criminal coverup to include the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence dozens of victims who are current DPS students. Director Anderson has no knowledge of, or participation in, such a vile claim of silencing child sexual assault victims.

Finally, Director Anderson is saddened that so many have rushed to judgments about these inflammatory accusations. All he asks for is a fair, responsible, and thorough investigation. He knows this will exonerate him. He continues to cooperate with the private investigation initiated by DPS and will cooperate with any criminal investigation which may be underway.

As his attorney, I am particularly concerned that while absolutely no details or facts have been released regarding any of these claims, it appears that many have already presumed his guilt, vilified him, and ignored his significant contributions to the DPS community. All this before any specifics, details, charges or findings. I ask you to remember that we are a nation of laws and principles. These must not be eclipsed by unproved and anonymous allegations regardless of their number or nature.

The truth will be revealed and Director Anderson will be cleared of these poisonous and false claims.
Also offering a statement was Denver Public Schools, which delivered this on May 28: "The Board of Education is committed to ensure a fair and thorough investigation. It is critically important that all individuals feel safe and supported to participate in this process, and will use any and all authority it has to protect those who participate. Retaliation or intimidation of witnesses will not be tolerated. An investigation led by Investigations Law Group remains open, and the Board encourages anyone with relevant information to reach out to [email protected] Investigations Law Group are independent investigators and are working to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the information provided to them."