The Park City School District is facing criminal charges after investigators say it failed to report child sex abuse cases to the proper authorities.
The district was charged Monday in Summit County Justice Court with three counts of failing to report child abuse, a class B misdemeanor, for allegedly not reporting three cases of suspected abuse over the past two and a half years.
In 2019, a parent told two Park City School District employees at an undisclosed school that their child claimed to have been touched by one of the employees. Those two employees then called a third employee into the superintendent's office to report the allegation to the third employee. However, "no report was made to law enforcement or to Child Protective Services," according to charging documents.
In November, the parent sought help from a medical professional for the boy, and told the professional about the allegation. That medical professional then contacted police, the charges state.
Officers, along with Division of Child and Family Services workers, went to the school to check on the child and then contacted the superintendent who told them that the allegation was two years old and had been resolved in 2019, according to the court documents.
At that time, DCFS workers expressed their concerns that school district personnel "are mandatory reporters and that no one at the school district reported the 2019 allegation to law enforcement or Child Protective Services," the charges state. When Superintendent Jill Gildea stated she did not know if the allegation was reported to either of those two parties, DCFS asked who was responsible for doing that.
"The superintendent replied, 'The parents.' When DCFS inquired further, the superintendent stated that she did not know because she wasn't working for the district in 2019."
After subpoenaing about 600 documents from the district, prosecutors determined that there was no evidence to show that any investigation into the child abuse allegation took place by district officials, who are not qualified or authorized to conduct such an investigation in the first place, the charges state.
The school district did not immediately return a call for comment on Monday.
During the course of the investigation, police also learned of another allegation of a student being raped by another student. A parent of the alleged victim was contacted by a school district employee, but police and DCFS were not, according to charging documents.
A third case from 2021 was then discovered involving two more students, in which a girl was allegedly raped by a boy. A school district employee "held a mediation among the parents and children involved in the allegation," but police were never contacted, the charges allege.
"It is the legal duty of any individual who has reason to believe that a child is, or has been, the subject or abuse or neglect (or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect) to immediately report to the Utah Division of Child and Family Services or local law enforcement," the Summit County Attorney's Office said in a statement Monday, citing the legal statute.
Although the investigation into some of the allegations was ongoing as of Monday, prosecutors said that "child protection demands an urgent and immediate response" and the public should know that past allegations of child abuse reported to the school district "may not have been reported to the proper authorities and may not have been properly investigated."
The Summit County Attorney's Office is encouraging anyone who may have only reported a suspected case of child abuse to a school official to call either Utah Child Protective Services at 855-323-3237, or the sheriff's office at 435-615-3600.