Teen speaks out after alleged teacher sex assault incident

10:42 AM, Mar 13, 2007   |    comments
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Tommy Clay was 17 when he had an alleged sexual relationship with a former teacher at Brighton Charter High School.

That teacher, Carrie McCandless, is charged with sexually assaulting him while on a class trip last October in Estes Park.

During the interview with Matt Lauer, Clay said the relationship started during summer school as a friendship. Clay felt McCandless was somebody he could talk to, someone who he could relate to.

According to Clay, the relationship escalated from that point and one day the two exchanged 76 text messages.

When asked if the two had discussed the possibility of their relationship being discovered Clay said, "We didn't openly discuss it as it is more of, 'It's over if it ever comes out.'"

9NEWS began investigating and reporting on the alleged incident. When Brighton Police became aware of the situation they began their own investigation which eventually led to the arrest of McCandless.

Clay said when details began to surface he planned to take the fall. "It was reported to the principal and Mr. Mundy, the president of the school board, called me into his office. I told Mrs. McCandless that I would take the fall for it and I didn't want her to end up losing her job and I figured that I had a lot less to lose than she did."

Clay and his parents say he was then asked to leave Brighton Charter High School.

ShereeClay, Tommy's mother said, "We met that day with Mr. Mundy and he just continued to say we need to take Tommy out, 'I have to protect a friendship here.' He (Mr. Mundy) has to be friends with the teacher, her husband and 'I need to save a marriage.' It was things like that. It made Tommy feel very, very guilty."

David Mundy Sr. has since resigned as school board president and faces charges of tampering with a witness and failure to report abuse. He has pled not guilty and remains under fire following an incident involving his substitute teacher son David Mundy Jr.

Mundy Jr. pled guilty to charges of sexual assault on a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor while partying with three girls, ages 14-to-16, at his apartment last year. One of the girls involved was a student at Brighton Charter High School.

When questioned as to why Clay's family did not report the incident with McCandless to police, ShereeClay said, "At first we were honoring Tommy's wishes. We didn't call police. We didn't do anything because Tommy was adamant about protecting the teacher."

Clay says this had changed his life at school. "Well at first it was all high fives and stuff like that. Yea a lot of my guy friends were, showed (me) a lot more respect I guess. And then as we got further into it, I mean, I lost a lot of friends I had at that school." Clay added later in the interview that many of the teachers at the school have been very supportive.

The Clays' attorney, Gary Fielder, also appeared on the show during the interview and commented on the school boards response by saying, "I think it sort of shows that general lack of awareness we all have in society. Because we are not talking about sexual contact by force or intimidation or threat but we are talking about an older person in a position of power and responsibility manipulating a child into thinking that this child wants sexual contact."

McCandless faces two felony counts and is currently considering a plea offer in Larimer County.

If there is one lesson ShereeClay hopes people take away from this incident it is that, "It is just wrong that a teacher would do that. It shouldn't be acceptable. It doesn't matter if it's a boy or girl."

To view video from the interview click here to visit Today's Web site.

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