Education

Defendant in Tay Anderson Lawsuit Doubles Down on Sex-Assault Claim

Jeeva Senthilnathan's statement in response to the Tay Anderson lawsuit claims the complaint is an attempt to silence critics.
Jeeva Senthilnathan's statement in response to the Tay Anderson lawsuit claims the complaint is an attempt to silence critics. Courtesy of Jeeva Senthilnathan
Most individuals named as defendants in a lawsuit decline to comment, in order to avoid giving the plaintiff more ammunition. But not Jeeva Senthilnathan, who's among the targets of a suit filed last week by Denver School Board member Tay Anderson over claims of sexual misconduct that he's repeatedly denied.

In a statement provided to Westword, Senthilnathan contends that "this lawsuit is not only meritless, but it seems that its aim is to chill free speech by a citizen through abuse of judicial process."

Attorney Issa Israel, who represents Anderson, responds by branding Senthilnathan as an attention-seeker without a clue about the point at which free speech becomes defamation.

The suit's other defendants include Black Lives Matter 5280, which shared a claim of sexual impropriety against Anderson by an unnamed woman in March; several of its leaders; and Mary Katherine Brooks-Fleming, who made 62 sex-crime allegations subsequently tied to Anderson during May testimony before a committee of the Colorado Legislature. As for Senthilnathan, a former candidate for Parker town council who describes herself as a youth activist, Anderson's complaint maintains that she "presented a third wave of allegations, this time centered on an untold number of anonymous White victims."


According to the suit, Senthilnathan, Brooks-Fleming and the Black Lives Matter 5280 group pushed a "trifecta of 'anonymous' allegations" to "the exact three demographic groups that Anderson’s base is comprised of. Moreover, in reserving their dog-whistle of White rape victims for their last hoorah, they deliberately incited a backlash that for many hearkens back to the tragedy of Emmett Till."

In September, a DPS-commissioned report by the independent Investigations Law Group failed to substantiate the most serious allegations against Anderson, but took him to task for bullying behavior on social media toward actual and potential accusers.

Senthilnathan asserts that Anderson was just as aggressive outside public view.

"Approximately three months ago, I had a young activist in Denver come forward to me regarding an assault she suffered from, perpetrated by DPS School Board Director Tay Anderson," her statement begins. "On October 23rd, I posted a Facebook live video on the subject of the 2021 Denver School Board
Elections and focused on how Director Anderson’s history of sexual harassment/assault has drastically impacted political campaign organizers emotionally alongside candidates running in the race. Soon after I had posted this video, I was sent a cease-and-desist letter from Tay Anderson. I have reason to believe that Anderson has also silenced many survivors with cease-and-desist letters after the release of my video on Facebook."


Since Anderson "remains a publicly elected official, despite the school board’s vote to censure him in
September 2021," her statement continues, "the burden remains on him to prove actual damages resulting from any statements made. At this point in time, no such proof has been offered of the actual damages Anderson has suffered."

Moreover, it adds, "Anderson seems to still erroneously believe that an investigation carried out by ILG 'cleared' him of any wrongdoing or allegations. Although ILG, a private law firm, issued a report detailing the evidence supporting and not supporting any allegations of sexual abuse, the Denver District Attorney has issued no such statement."

The DA's office declined to charge Anderson, a spokesperson said, because prosecutors didn't feel any crime could be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. To Senthilnathan, this declaration falls short of exoneration. Her statement argues that "considering the lengthy statute of limitations on sexual assault allegations involving underage victims, Anderson has not been 'cleared' of any such possible criminal prosecution. The report also alluded to inappropriate behavior on Anderson’s part, although much of the report detailing his inappropriate conduct was redacted at his demand."

In Senthilnathan's words, "I believe in positive reinforcement, but this kind of healing and change can only happen when elected officials come forward to accept their mistakes. When that fails, as it has in this case, I am left with no choice but to continue to fight to bring justice to the survivors who were harmed and support them in the healing process. I am hopeful that this will finally provide healing in the community and Tay Anderson is officially held accountable through due process. A simple censure from the DPS School Board is not enough. I will not be bullied into silence, and I will stand up for the survivors who have been intimidated into hiding by Anderson. Tay Anderson must be held accountable for sexually harassing and assaulting young women, and this intimidation by threats of lawsuit needs to stop in order for survivors to come forward and get their fair day in a court of law."

Anderson attorney Israel offers this response to Senthilnathan's statement: "Outside of being a shameless cut-and-paste job from her attorney’s initial response to our cease-and-desist letter, Ms. Senthilnathan’s 'statement' on the pending litigation perfectly captures her naïve misunderstanding of free speech, her complete ignorance of the fact that the prior allegations have already been thoroughly debunked and the pitiful lengths she’s willing to sink to in order to parlay the pain of others into an additional fifteen minutes of fame. To the extent that she really is a spokesperson for additional anonymous sexual assault victims in need of justice, we would suggest that she direct them to law enforcement without further delay rather than use their suffering as a soapbox to garner publicity."

Click to read Tay Anderson v. Black Lives Matter 5280, et al. and the Investigations Law Group's Tay Anderson report.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts