AURORA | Police arrested a Prairie Middle School teacher Tuesday on suspicion of sexual assault on “multiple” students and say they believe the veteran social studies teacher may have assaulted other children.
Brian Vasquez, 34, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at the school, which is adjacent to Overland High School and near East Iliff Avenue and South Peoria Street, police said.
In a press conference Tuesday night at Aurora police headquarters, Police Chief Nick Metz said an investigation is underway, and police are trying to determine whether they might be other victims.
Vasquez teaches 8th grade social studies at the school. He has taught there for 7 years, officials said.
This is an “incredibly high priority investigation for us,” Metz said. Vasquez was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
Police said the investigation began Aug. 20 when a victim walked into the Aurora police lobby to file a complaint.
Aurora police Lt. Steve Redfearn, who oversees the department’s major investigations section, said Vasquez is facing eight charges, including five counts of sexual exploitation and three counts of sexual assault by a person in a position of trust. Redfearn declined to say how many victims the eight charges name, but said there are “multiple” victims.
Redfearn and Metz noted that the investigation is in the very early phases, having just started Sunday.
The goal of Tuesday press conference, Metz said, was to ask other potential victims, or anyone with information on the case, to call investigators. Aurora police set up a hotline at 303-739-6164.
Vasquez previously worked for schools in Widefield and Harrison school districts near Colorado Springs in El Paso County. He is married and has two children, police said. They added that “previous employers” said they had no concerns about Vasquez in those positions. He also was a coach for Destination Imagination, an extracurricular program, at Prairie in the past.
“It’s a sad day at Prairie Middle School,” said Cherry Creek Schools District Superintendent Harry Bull. “My greatest concern is for the students.”
Bull said Vasquez was placed on paid administrative leave this week.
The school shares a campus with Overland High School in Aurora, and police said they are asking students there to contact them if they have information about the case.
He said there are grave concerns there are potentially other victims in the school and appealed to students to “please let an adult at your school know.”