On multiple occasions, Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson pursued illicit relationships with underage high school girls, including a DPS student while he was a board member.
That’s one of the top-line conclusions from the final report by Investigations Law Group, which was hired by DPS to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Anderson. It was released Wednesday.
The report reveals a 2018 instance in which Anderson, then a 20-year-old candidate, attempted to date a 17-year-old high school girl he met at a fundraiser.
Anderson and the teen, who was a Douglas County Schools student at the time, played online games together. Anderson “then began to pursue her for dates.” Most of their exchanges happened over Snapchat, a social media platform where messages disappear after being viewed.
The teen told investigators Anderson asked her to go “stargazing or a sleepover at his place with him.” Anderson claims he was merely “flirtatious with her.” To this high schooler, he was more than just “flirtatious.”
“He made me feel extremely uncomfortable and scared to go places in the case I would see him,” she told investigators.
What could make a high school girl feel so terrified of a school board candidate? Because he harshly rebuked her when she rebuffed his advances. “You’re such a pussy. Just come,” he told the teen.
“I never hung out with him in private and I thank God every single day for that because who knows what would have happened,” she told investigators.
Such advances didn’t end with Anderson’s election. Last year, he exchanged Facebook and text messages with another high school girl — a 16-year-old DPS student.
On July 11 and 16, 2020, Anderson posted googly eyes in response to the teen’s Facebook story. She didn’t reply until July 20, when he posted anew. “Pause that’s your room !!!?”
The underage student finally replied. They soon swapped numbers and texted. “Do you still stay with family or do you have your own spot?” Anderson inquired. He and the teen continued messaging until, Anderson claims, he “ended up finding out the individual’s age. And I was like, whoa, that was a mistake on my end.”
“I didn’t know at the time their age” (quoting Anderson) is an absurd excuse from an adult — let alone a school board member. Any DPS teacher in a similar situation would almost certainly be fired.
Let’s be clear: DPS’s own investigation affirms Tay Anderson has on more than one occasion aggressively solicited inappropriate relationships with underage school children. Not only did he solicit such contact, but he persistently and at times abusively — using vile language — attempted to coerce children into an encounter.
The report clearly demonstrates how this behavior is a longstanding pattern of misconduct by Anderson, such as during his time in 2018-2019 as president of Never Again Colorado.
“Director Anderson and other corroborating data confirmed that he: (1) made unwelcome sexual comments; (2) flirted with and made unwelcome sexual advances toward various women associated with NAC; and” — well, this part is redacted because Anderson claims “privacy interests.” (The board will challenge that in court.)
Anderson admits to most of the Never Again allegations and apologized. Yet his actions beginning less than four years ago reveal a shocking and consistent attitude the 23-year-old clearly maintains today: Tay Anderson can make inappropriate sexual advances and comments toward women and underage girls … and he expects to get away with it.
“I’ve apologized.” “I’ve taken accountability.” “I didn’t know she was only 16.” Enough with Tay’s excuses. Why does DPS keep tolerating this behavior?
News stories have understandably focused on the report’s findings that the most serious allegations — concerning sexual assault on 62 DPS students and a member of Black Lives Matter 5280 — are “not substantiated.”
To be clear, “not substantiated” — the report’s wording — is not at all the same as being cleared. It means ILG investigators could not corroborate the allegations — primarily leveled via DPS mother Mary Katherine Brooks-Fleming – based on available evidence provided and no alleged victims coming forward. There’s no indication that Denver Police have finished their separate investigation(s), however, the existence of which is confirmed in the ILG report.
The board’s statement Wednesday sighs, “The most grievous accusations were not substantiated and the board is grateful for that.” That may provide some relief, but not enough. The report’s findings are so odious, even Anderson’s colleagues finally seem eager to “censure” him at a meeting scheduled for this afternoon.
“[T]he report reveals behavior unbecoming of a board member,” the statement reads. “As elected officials, we must hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards in carrying out the best interest of the District. Director Anderson’s behavior does not meet those standards.”
In fact, Anderson’s predatory behavior with underage girls does not meet the standards of DPS’s own employees. It’s not enough that the board publicly scolds Anderson. His behavior is utterly reprehensible and totally unacceptable. Anderson’s colleagues must demand his resignation.
The entire DPS board is guilty of sheltering a predator. Their refusal to firmly and decisively address a years-long pattern — one whereby Anderson flagrantly abuses a position of trust with children — sends two unconscionable messages to every student, parent and DPS employee: (1) We will not protect your kids and fellow students. (2) We embrace double standards: one for Tay Anderson and one for our employees.
The DPS board has a responsibility to correct this immediately. If they fail, Tay Anderson isn’t the only one who needs to resign.
Jimmy Sengenberger is host of “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show” on News/Talk 710 KNUS. He also hosts “Jimmy at the Crossroads,” a webshow and podcast in partnership with The Washington Examiner.