District 51 staff member put on leave, under criminal investigation

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A District 51 paraprofessional member is on paid leave while the police department looks into allegations of inappropriate conduct with students.

The employee has been on paid leave since March 14 of this year, according to records obtained by KKCO 11 News through an open records request.

According to a KKCO 11 News tip, the employee was having sexual relationships with teenagers. But the scope of the investigation, including information about a possible number of victims or ages of those involved, is not being released.

The school district provided us with a letter, with half of the information blacked out, citing a rule that makes certain employment information confidential and not subject to inspection by the media or anyone.

The Grand Junction Police Department confirmed they're working on a case involving a District 51 employee, but did not provide additional details since the case is still 'open and active,' and no arrests have been made.

“It's important to balance protecting the integrity of an investigation versus transparency with the community which is very important to us,” said Heidi Davidson, public information officer with Grand Junction Police Department. “In complex investigations like this, we need to make sure that everyone we talk to has an opportunity to speak candidly with us. We don't want to put out information that might taint a recollection of somebody that we want to speak with, so it's really important for us to be careful and weigh that balance.”

KKCO has chosen to withhold the name of the staffer facing these allegations, since there have been no criminal charges filed.

“We are awaiting the result of that investigation just like everyone else,” Emily Shockley of District 51 said. “We can say at this time we don't believe this has anything to do with her job at the school district or with the students she had interactions with.”

The alleged victims in this case were not in their class or even the same building. The victims are high school age students, but to protect them, KKCO is not releasing the high school the victims attended.

The district attorney's office said there are three categories when evaluating whether sexual relationships between people of different ages are criminal.

If the victim is under the age of 15 and the offender is four or more years older, a suspect could face a class four felony with lifetime sex offender supervision.

If the victim is either 15 or 16 and the offender is 10 or more years older, It’s a class one misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and sex offender supervision.

If the victim is 17, then it is only illegal if the offender is in a position of trust with respect to that victim.



 
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