Aurora Police investigating alleged inappropriate behavior at a low-income after school care

Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 21:13:10-04

AURORA, Colo. -- Police are investigating allegations of inappropriate behavior at a low-income after school care program and a former employee claims she was forced to resign for speaking up.

Colfax Community Network (CCN) said the male employee was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, nearly a week after they learned about the allegations, and stressed an internal HR investigation has found no truth to the allegations. However, the police investigating is ongoing.

The nonprofit provides free after school care for low-income families in Aurora.

Walker said she was forced to resign hours after she sent an email to her boss raising concerns about the male employee still being allowed at work and doing her job as a mandatory reporter.

"I lost my job and he' still in the program. He's still there. He's still with kids, as of two days ago," said Melissa Walker, CCN's former community and family advocate.

She said several parents and students brought the concerns to her attention.

"I brought them to the attention of my bosses. Told them I thought it was appropriate to involve child protective services, and I was told I resigned," she said.

Walker said she was offered a transfer and demotion, which she declined and instead chose to resign.

Laura McGarry, the director of programs and operations for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare who runs CCN, described Walker as a disgruntled employee and said they notified her of the job change several weeks before the allegations came to light.

McGarry said they have taken the allegations seriously, but did not find any inappropriate photos on the male employee's phone or other staff members who witnessed any of the alleged behavior. She also said they are fully cooperating with police.

"It makes me feel angry," said Anna, a parent with a 9-year-old who attends CCN.  

Anna asked us not to use her last name because her child still attends the program, but said she was one of the parents who reported her concerns to Walker.

"My daughter came and told me about three weeks ago, that they went to swim at a local swimming pool and she said that she confronted him and said 'I seen you taking a picture,'" she said.

"We had multiple children have all these same kinds of allegations," Walker said.

Walker said five different Aurora Public Schools have children who attend CCN's after school care program. Four days a week, she said children are picked up from Sable, Kenton, Vaughn, Park Lane and Crawford Elementary.

Denver7 reached out to Aurora Public Schools, and a spokesperson referred us to CCN and did not return our calls about whether letters were being sent home to parents about the allegations.

McGarry also confirmed they let the male employee drive a bus to pick-up students, with female staff present, after the allegations came to light due a staffing issue.

A decision parents and Walker take issue with, and said they have been kept in the dark by the program throughout the investigation. 

"This program is here to help us single moms and all the community and that's what they're doing to our kids?" Anna said.  

"This is a big thing and CCN is trying to not talk about it and sweep it under the rug," Walker said.

Aurora police said the case is still an ongoing investigation, and have not filed any charges, which is why Denver7 is not naming the male employee accused.