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Denver man accused of sexual assault kept coaching, teaching between allegations

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

A youth baseball coach and Denver (Col.) Valdez Elementary School teacher's aide accused of sexually assaulting a student in April 2012 was allowed to continue coaching children and working at the school for more than a year, according to multiple reports.

Prosecutors did not originally file charges last year for fear a conviction could not be argued in court, but then renewed their investigation when the fifth-grader recently told his mother that the sexual assaults continued over the past year, the reports said.

Matt Melendez has since been charged with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and freed on $50,000 bail, according to Denver's 9News. The Denver Pirates Youth Baseball League, of which Melendez was a founding board member, and the Denver Public Schools system have reportedly suspended Melendez pending the investigation.

"To think there was an initial outcry in April of 2012, and because we couldn't file charges at the time, that it may have enabled this to happen again," Denver District Attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough told the local NBC affiliate. "It's very disturbing."

Denver Police believe the 9-year-old boy is the lone victim, but considering Melendez's roles in recent years as a Denver-area elementary school paraprofessional, youth baseball coach, Ashland Recreation Center part-time employee and Denver Police Activities League football instructor, the department is encouraging parents to come forward if they believe their children have any additional information concerning the case.

The boy was a student in a program designed for students with disabilities in grades 2-5 and was reinserted into Melendez's classroom this past school year, the reports said. Court documents obtained by CBS4, 9News and The Denver Post allege Melendez kept the boy inside during recess on multiple occasions and assaulted him in a hallway.

Additionally, the boy's mother leveled another disturbing allegation in the arrest affidavit against former Valdez principal Peter Sherman. She claimed he "forced" the boy to apologize to Melendez for "lying" once the prosecution did not file charges following the April 2012 allegations, the affidavit obtained by the local CBS affiliate said.

However, Sherman denied that claim in a statement issued to local media outlets: "In the follow-up support that was provided to the student and his family, there was never any time when I or any Valdez staff attempted to compel the student to apologize."

Meanwhile, current Valdez principal Jessica Buckley sent a letter last week -- reportedly after enrollment for the school had closed -- informing parents of the ongoing investigation of the suspended Melendez. The school is providing counselors for students, and DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg attempted to reassure their parents.

"We do thorough background checks on any and everyone who works in DPS," Boasberg told CBS4. "I would say to any parent who has a concern to immediately discuss that concern with your school principal. We will be there to fully understand the circumstances, to investigate any concerns and be there to make sure your kid is safe."

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