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Teen says Adams County investigators protected abusive teacher instead of charging him

Posted at 10:10 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 00:50:41-04

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- A young woman is accusing the Adams County Sheriff’s Office of protecting her sexual abuser.

Peter Aquino walked free for an entire year before being charged with sexual assault on a child younger than 15.

Her attorneys claim investigators didn’t charge Aquino because he is a witness in the murder of one of their own deputies.

Peter Aquino was a teacher at Denver School of Innovation. Court documents reveal he told investigators he had a sexual relationship with a student when she was 15 and he was 25 that lasted several years.

“I assumed I was okay cause I was, uh, 25 and she was 15, and I did a little research and I saw the age of consent was 15,” Aquino told investigators.

At one point when discussing the location of the school Aquino asked investigators, “Do you have any idea what they’re gonna do to me?”

The investigator replied, “...all we are interested in is our end...and that’s the murder.”

In 2018, the young woman and her cousin, Dreion Dearing, went to Aquinos home to confront him. There was an altercation and police were called. During a pursuit, Dearing allegedly shot and killed Deputy Heath Gumm.

Aquino became a witness in the murder case. During interviews with detectives he said, “I don’t know the laws on this stuff with youth very well, I think I’m going to jail. I want help, I need help.”

Her attorneys claim three Adams County Detectives and the District Attorney knew Aquino confessed to sexual abuse but didn’t charge him because he was a key witness in their case. They say detectives even refused to provide a copy of his confession to police investigating the sexual assault allegations, delaying him being charged until February of this year.

The young woman was arrested for the confrontation and later told a social worker about the sexual abuse. Aquino was charged with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child pattern of abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor and several other felonies.

The young woman's attorneys want the three deputies and D.A. to be charged for not reporting child abuse and not abiding by mandatory reporting laws.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says as a rule, they do not comment on pending litigation.