A substitute teacher at an Edgewater elementary school has been arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual contact of a student at the school, and CBS4 has learned he has a history of putting children in uncomfortable situations.
Vincente Vitela, 46, was removed from three other schools before the incident in Edgewater. His arrest follows allegations from students at Lumberg Elementary School in Edgewater.
The Jefferson County School District says the previous incidents were not similar in nature to the recent alleged incidents. However, an arrest affidavit says he told stories that made children feel uncomfortable.
Vitela, nicknamed “Mr. V,” has been a substitute teacher in Jefferson County since 2009. Earlier in February while teaching a sixth-grade class at Lumberg Elementary at least three students complained he made them feel uncomfortable by touching them and smelling their hair.
One student said while she was at the white board Vitela put his hands on her shoulders and his front was touching her back.
“For somebody to make them feel uncomfortable, it’s important for a child to come forward, and in this case they did,” Steve Davis with Edgewater police said.
Last year, according to an arrest affidavit, Vitela was asked to leave three schools within months of each other. The reasons weren’t specific other than he made “children feel uncomfortable.”
“The previous complaints about Vitela from other Jeffco schools were not of the same nature as the current allegations. None of the complaints involved inappropriate contact with students,” Jefferson County Schools said in a statement.
The district also says teachers must pass a fingerprint and background check through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before getting a license.
“Eventually people do fall through the cracks and we’re checking to see if that happened here,” Davis said.
Vitela’s son says his father is innocent, but police are worried there are more children at risk, especially because Vitela also tutors students out of his home.
“Talk to your kids if he was tutoring them,” Davis said.
Police are asking more victims to come forward.
Vitela is due back in court on March 2 to be advised of charges filed against him.