Monday, July 27, 2009

Teacher Anthony Ruiz Arrested for Getting 16-year-old Pregnant

A teacher is accused of sexual assault after investigators say he got a 16-year-old student pregnant.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office has arrested 34-year-old Anthony Ruiz, a former social studies teacher at Eagle Rock School.

Administrators at the school told the sheriff's office a former student told them she had been sexually assaulted by Ruiz in May 2009.

Robert Burkhardt, head of Eagle Rock School, said the former student called a member of the staff on Wednesday, July 22 and told that member about the incident.

Burkhardt says the school immediately contacted Child Protective Services and the Larimer County Sheriff's Department.

The teen, who is currently with her family in California, told investigators the assault happened one time and she became pregnant.

Investigators say the alleged assault happened at Ruiz's home, which is on the school campus.

No other assaults have been reported by this student or any other students at the school, but deputies are talking with other students to get more information.

Last Friday, investigators contacted Ruiz and arrested him on one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

"There is an ethical, moral as well as a legal issue as to a person in a position of trust, [such as] a teacher having sex with a student, regardless of their age, but particularly a juvenile student," Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden said.

Burkhardt tells 9NEWS he put Ruiz on administrative leave Friday and fired him Saturday.

"This place operates in the world of trust," Burkhardt said. "This trust was violated."

Burkhardt says the 16-year-old was first enrolled at the school in January 2008. She left in early to mid July.

Ruiz posted a $5,000 bond at the Larimer County Detention Center on Monday night. The sheriff's department says if Ruiz is convicted, he could get up to 12 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

He was hired by Eagle Rock School in July 2008. Investigators say Ruiz also taught in South Korea and Japan. They say his wife was out of town at the time of the alleged incident.

Eagle Rock School is a private, year-round alternative high school. Students from around the U.S., ages 15 through 19, are enrolled there.

Burkhardt released a full statement on Monday afternoon:

"The faculty and staff of Eagle Rock School are both shocked and saddened at reports of inappropriate and inexcusable conduct between a member of the faculty, and a student. Eagle Rock School is founded on trust, and this reported incident clearly violates that trust.

This is a matter of utmost seriousness. As soon as these allegations were reported, school officials contacted local law enforcement and social services. The school has been fully cooperating with these agencies to investigate this matter. School officials have also reached out to the former student, who is no longer on campus, and to her mother, to offer assistance.

In addition, parents and sponsors of students have been informed of these circumstances and assured that the safety of Eagle Rock students is our primary concern. Special counseling for all students, male and female, is underway.

Eagle Rock School maintains a strict Standard of Conduct for students, faculty and staff. In light of this matter, these Standards have again been communicated and reinforced to the entire Eagle Rock community. In addition, the school is conducting an immediate and intensive internal review of these policies to strengthen and enhance them.

The Instructional Specialist in question, Mr. Anthony Ruiz, was an employee of Eagle Rock School from July 7, 2008, until July 25, 2009, when he was immediately terminated for conduct in direct violation of the Standards of Conduct at Eagle Rock School.

Eagle Rock School, in Estes Park, Colorado, is a year-round private residential high school for students 15-19 who have not experienced success in traditional academic programs, who did not expect to graduate from high school, and who are committed to changing their lives for the better. The school, which has a capacity of 96 students, was established in 1993.

Out of respect for the privacy of our students, and due to the fact that this is an ongoing legal matter, Eagle Rock School will be unable to say anything further at this time."


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