A series of sexual assaults at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind kept secret from authorities for years are now coming to light.
The state-run school was founded in 1874 and has a distinguished background, but this is a chapter it certainly wouldn’t want to be included in its history.
“I want people to know it does happen. It can happen to your kid. It happened to mine,” said one of two mothers of blind children who attended the school. Both women agreed to interviews with KCNC under the condition that their identities wouldn’t be revealed.
The woman said her son was sent to the school to receive a good education, but when he was 9 1/2 she learned he had been sexually assaulted by another student. She says she went to school authorities, but received no help.
“Were you told why nothing could be done?” asked investigative reporter Rick Sallinger.
“They said they could not interrogate every child at the school because of their special needs and primarily because they are visually impaired,” she said.
The woman later learned her son was not alone, but one of at least five who had been sexually assaulted by the same boy.
The other mother who spoke with KCNC said her son was 16 when he was accosted in a dorm bathroom.
“They never offered an apology, never asked ‘How is your son?’ They never said ‘Is there anything we can do? … absolutely nothing … nothing.”
Colorado Springs police investigated and found the school kept records of the assault, but did not report them to law enforcement or social services authorities, as required by law.
Louis Tutt was the principal of the school at the time. KCNC found a warrant for his arrest was issued last year for failure to report child abuse, but he had taken a new job out of state and was never arrested.
Sallinger tracked down Tutt by phone at his new position in Virginia with the Association for Education of the Blind And Visually Handicapped.
“Yeah, I don’t know anything about that. I left there two years ago,” he said.
“Are you aware there is an arrest warrant out for you?” Sallinger asked.
“Not at all,” Tutt said.
Besides the arrest warrant, Tutt, the school and unnamed staff members are now facing two civil lawsuits filed in federal court by families of victims.
Some parents believe a cover up has taken place.
“I have no doubt it is being hid because I was never informed because they never told me. I was the parent. At the least they should have called me first to let me know and they didn’t,” one of the two mothers told KCNC.
It was not until two years after the first assault that parents received a notice that an investigation was taking place.
“Do you feel some of these other assaults could have been prevented?” Sallinger asked one of the women.
“Yes, I feel that if the previous assaults had been reported then my son would not have been assaulted,” she said.
The student involved in those assaults pleaded guilty in the juvenile system.
Officials with the School for the Deaf and the Blind issued a statement to KCNC: “Given that this involved students, and information about students is confidential, we are unable to provide content regarding this case.”
The El Paso County District Attorney’s Office and police say Tutt cannot be brought back to Colorado to stand trial because failure to report sex abuse is a misdemeanor.