A Prairie Middle School teacher was arrested at the school on Tuesday afternoon as part of a child sexual assault investigation, Aurora police said. Police said they feared that multiple children were assaulted, and they appealed to the public for help in the investigation.
Eighth-grade social studies teacher Brian Vasquez, 34, has been a teacher at Prairie for seven years. He’s suspected of three counts of sex assault of a child by a person in a position of trust and five counts of sexual exploitation of a child, police said. Police said there are multiple victims, although they did not say how many.
The Cherry Creek School District has placed Vasquez on administrative leave.
“This is a sad day,” said Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools during a news conference at police headquarters. “I’m concerned if there are any other victims out there.”
The middle school, at 12600 E. Jewell Ave., has more than 1,760 students in grades six through eight. Students come from 70 countries and speak 40 languages, according to its website.
School district officials said parents of Prairie Middle School and Overland High School students would be notified Tuesday night. The two schools share a campus.
Vasquez previously taught in the Widefield and Harrison school districts in El Paso County. He also worked at the San Louis Valley Youth Detention Center in Alamosa. Investigators will be reaching out to the suspect’s prior employers, police said.
The investigation started Aug. 20, when an alleged victim walked into the Aurora police station lobby and made a complaint of inappropriate sexual conduct, police said. As the investigation unfolded “more serious incidents came to light to include sexual assault between Vasquez and juvenile students,” police said in a news release.
Police investigators have put a “high priority on it,” Police Chief Nick Metz said at the conference. “We believe it is likely there are additional victims.”
Vasquez has coached an after-school program — Destination Imagination — at Prairie since November 2012. The program helps students with problem solving.