Anonymous sexual assault allegations against Denver school board member Tay Anderson were unsubstantiated, but the law firm investigating him found “behavior unbecoming of a board member,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the board.
As a result, the Denver Public Schools board will meet Friday to consider censuring Anderson, the statement said.
The investigators concluded Anderson made social media posts that were “coercive and intimidating toward witnesses” and had “flirtatious social media contact with a 16-year-old DPS student while a board member,” according to the firm’s 96-page report.
The school board believes Anderson and the people who participated in the investigation were treated fairly.
“All too often, allegations leveled against Black men are assumed to be true without sufficient verification or evidence; and Black women along with women of color are treated with a lesser sense of care and urgency. We did not want that to happen here. We believe everyone deserves due process,” the statement said. “Director Anderson agreed. He and his attorney both supported and welcomed this investigation when the Board authorized it in April 2021.”
Anderson posted a statement to his social media accounts saying he is not surprised the allegations of sexual assault were unfounded.
“I believe the most important message that can be conveyed at this time is that the finding of unsubstantiated claims against me is in no way a victory over the survivors, but rather an opportunity to reconsider how we view and create not only restorative, but also transformative justice, for survivors, for falsely accused, and correctly convicted,” he wrote.
Anderson said he would not comment further on the report but would hold a news conference in the coming days.
The Denver Public Schools board hired Investigations Law Group on April 6 after Black Lives Matter 5280 posted a statement on behalf of an anonymous woman that accused Anderson of sexual assault. The woman asked that Anderson issue a public apology and seek professional counseling.
The report was delivered on Monday to the school board’s lawyer and to six of the seven Board of Education members. Anderson received a redacted copy on Tuesday. The report was edited to protect students who participated in the investigation from any retaliation, the board said.
The investigation originally was supposed to wrap up within a couple of months but it stretched through the summer after Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming, a DPS parent and self-described community activist, testified before a legislative committee about a predator within the school system who was targeting students. Although she did not name Anderson in her testimony, DPS officials later confirmed she was referring to Anderson and said the Denver Police Department was aware of the allegations.
Anderson voluntarily took a break from his school board duties in late May but resumed his work after a seven-week hiatus. During that period, Anderson said he had contemplated taking his own life.
The allegations have been a blow to the 23-year-old Anderson, seen by many as a rising star in Denver’s Democratic Party. His supporters cheer his outspoken opinions about topics ranging from police in schools to providing free pads and tampons to female students. In 2020, his leadership during protests against police violence drew national attention.
Anderson was elected to an at-large seat on the school board in 2019 and will be up for re-election in 2023. Prior to his election, Anderson was a school district employee.
Shortly after Black Lives Matter 5280 posted its statement, three former members of Never Again Colorado, a short-lived youth organization seeking gun reform, told The Denver Post they witnessed sexual misconduct on the part of Anderson in 2018.
Madison Rose, who was the group’s vice president, told The Post that Anderson, then 19, used his position as president to pressure women into relationships and that complaints ranged from unwanted compliments and touching to unwelcome sexual advances. Some were underage, she said.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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