APS says it was in the dark about Vista Peak high school molestation case until July


AURORA | Aurora Public Schools officials say they were in the dark about a former Vista Peak high school music teacher being accused of molesting a student before the man was sentenced to 90 days in jail  for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student.

Zachary Timbrell, who is married and has two young children, had pleaded guilty to sex assault by a person in a position of trust and sexual exploitation of a child. He was sentenced Oct. 30 and must register as a sex offender. Besides having to serve 90 days in jail, he must be on probation for five years, a sentence the victim and prosecutors said was far too lenient.

APS said it learned of the allegations against Timbrell’s in July, a month after Timbrell resigned his position at the school. When asked if APS had notified families in Vista Peak after it learned about the allegations, APS spokesman said the district didn’t want to interfere with a police investigation at the time.

The victim, now 19, said the assaults happened over several months last year, including one incident that lasted several hours in a hotel room, according to court records.

District Judge Ben L. Leutwyler III noted the 32-year-old Timbrell’s remorsefulness and ongoing rehabilitation therapy in handing down the sentence. Prosecutors had asked for a three-year prison sentence.

The victim read an impact statement in court, calling Timbrell a “sexual predator and (he) has changed my life forever.”

“I can’t describe how dirty and broken and filthy I feel. This man is sick. He knew he would lose everything if discovered, but he did it anyway,” the victim said. “It cannot be forgotten or swept under the rug or treated with just a few months in therapy.”

In a statement in response to the sentencing, Aurora Public Schools said:

“At APS, we do not tolerate inappropriate staff behavior. We also proactively investigate any claims of sexual harassment and are committed to providing every student with a safe and positive learning experience, every day. In this case, the sexual conduct was not reported to the school or police until after both the teacher and student were no longer at the school. According to the police investigation, there was no indication of other victims.”

In the arrest affidavit against Timbrell, it states that the former teacher was advised in May 2016 by school administration that he was showing favoritism to the female student who was the victim of Timbrell’s assault. The report said Timbrell was receptive to the counsel of the administration and “that was the end of it.”

But the document alleges that even after that, Timbrell carried on an inappropriate relationship with the girl for several months. Eventually the girl’s father found out and contacted authorities, the affidavit said.