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Tay Anderson files defamation lawsuit against activists who publicized sexual misconduct allegations

An independent investigation commissioned by Denver Public Schools cleared Anderson of the most serious allegations, but found he flirted with a 16-year-old student online

DPS School Board Director Tay Anderson speaks during the announcement of the Know Justice, Know Peace resolution which will provide more comprehensive education around Black history in the district’s curriculum at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in Denver, CO, on Sept. 18, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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Denver Public Schools Director Tay Anderson filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday against Black Lives Matter 5280 and activists who publicized anonymous sexual assault allegations against him.

An independent investigation solicited by the school district could not corroborate any sexual assault claims made against Anderson.

Anderson filed the lawsuit in Denver District Court. It claims BLM 5280 and the activists “knowingly and willfully published false allegations” against Anderson.

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The defendants, the lawsuit says, accused Anderson “of secretly moonlighting as the most prolific serial rapist in our nation’s history” on behalf of “an anonymous hoard of sexual assault victims each opposed to coming forward publicly or cooperating with law enforcement privately.” 

In a statement Wednesday, Anderson said he has lost job opportunities and seen his friends and family face threats of violence as a result of the allegations.

“I did not come to this decision lightly and it pains me to once again bring attention to this traumatic experience, but I’m a victim of false allegations that almost took my life,” Anderson said in the statement, explaining that he struggled with suicidal thoughts amid the public allegations.

The DPS board voted to censure Anderson after its investigation found he engaged in behavior the board deemed “unbecoming.” Hundreds of students from North High School in Denver also held a walkout calling for Anderson’s removal.

Anderson’s lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages. The defendants include several advocates associated with BLM 5280 — Apryl Alexander, Ari Lipscomb, Amy Brown and Michael Diaz Rivera — as well as a DPS parent, Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming, and Parker organizer Jeeva Senthilnathan.

MORE: Investigators couldn’t back up sexual assault claims against Tay Anderson, but found he flirted with underage student

Representatives of BLM 5280, Brooks Fleming and Senthilnathan did not immediately respond to requests to comment Wednesday night. 

In March, Black Lives Matter 5280 posted online that the group was approached by a woman who said that Anderson sexually assaulted her. The woman’s name was not shared. 

The group later said other people had come forward with similar claims. 

Then, in May, Brooks Fleming accused an unnamed person associated with Denver Public Schools of sexually assaulting 62 students. She made the remarks while testifying before a committee at the Colorado legislature.

“Although Fleming did not mention Anderson by name during the testimony, she did so before the testimony, after the testimony and at various times she communicated who the culprit was through context clues and implication,” according to Anderson’s lawsuit.

The complaint also cites a Facebook post by Senthilnathan where she said Brooks Fleming’s allegations are false but she maintained Anderson has sexually assaulted “many women.” 

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“How dare you exploit your identity like that Auontai Anderson when you really did commit the crime?” Senthilnathan wrote in a Facebook post, using Anderson’s legal name, according to the lawsuit. 

In a statement released Friday evening, Senthilnathan, an undergraduate student at the Colorado School of Mines, called the lawsuit meritless and said its “aim is to chill free speech by a citizen through abuse of judicial process.” 

Senthilnathan said Anderson sent her a cease-and-desist letter after a Facebook live video and has “reason to believe that Anderson has also silenced many survivors” with such letters after she posted the video. 

A nearly six-month independent investigation commissioned by Denver Public Schools cleared Anderson of the sexual assault allegations, with investigators saying they could not find evidence backing Brooks Fleming’s claims. The report also questioned the credibility of Brooks-Fleming, noting that she “did not volunteer specific or corroborating information in her statements.”

The investigation found, however, that Anderson engaged in flirtatious social media contact with a 16-year-old DPS student after he was elected a board member and that he posted threatening social media messages during the investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against him.


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