Tay Anderson, an at-large director on the Denver Public Schools board, held a Sunday afternoon news conference to address another round of allegations, published in The Denver Post on Saturday, that he had a history of sexual misconduct.
Anderson was joined at the conference, held at Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, by attorney Christopher Decker and Wanda James, owner of the Simply Pure marijuana dispensary, and other supporters.
On Friday, BLM5280 posted a statement on social media that accused Anderson of sexual assault. It claimed a woman, who asked to remain anonymous, had come forward in February and asked for a public apology from Anderson and that he seek help.
"The alleged victim's request are in alignment with restorative justice," a guiding value of the chapter, the statement said. And while no legal process has been sought, it said they believed her, including by calling out those who have allegedly caused harm. Anderson "would not be welcome to share space with BLM5280 physically" or on any of their platforms, the statement said.
Anderson issued a statement Saturday denying the allegations. He called the allegation "gut-wrenching," adding "I have not sexually assaulted anyone. I am not aware of any actions of mine that could be considered or construed as sexual assault," nor of any past partners who would make that claim.
Saturday, The Denver Post reported that Madison Rose, a vice president of the gun reform group Never Again, said that Anderson, then president, pressured women on the board — as well as others who wanted to be involved with the organization — to sleep with him.
The Post also reported on a 2018 letter that accused Anderson of fiscal mismanagement as well as sexual harassment, although a "community liaison," who looked into the spending after the group disbanded, reported no problems at the time.
Decker said Sunday that Anderson had been exonerated of the accusations from Never Again and called Rose an "opportunist" who "chose to weaponize an already volatile media situation."
Sexual violence matters, Decker said. It's a "scourge in our society," one that needs to be identified and ended in every instance, he said. "Nobody believes this more than Tay Anderson."
But Decker said that while it's important to hold those responsible, "we must be careful in times like this that volatile allegations do not eclipse the truth, that media cycles don't crush good people, and that anonymous claims don't ruin lives."
Anderson fears nothing except false narratives and unchecked assertions, Decker said. Anderson asks only for fairness in handling those allegations, that he welcomes any investigation and will make himself available.
"We don't expect this to blow over," Decker said, given that it involves a public figure and community leader. But he also pointed out that there has been no investigation on the allegations from Denver Police and Denver Public Schools, or any other criminal or civil process.
Anderson, who will become a father in about seven weeks, and often speaking through tears, said he takes the allegations very seriously and is committed to cooperating with any investigation. He noted his mother is a sexual assault survivor.
"I am not here to discredit or invalidate" the allegations, Anderson said. "I simply ask for a fair process, to understand what actions he might have taken that could have caused harm.
"I have not sexually assaulted anyone and I am not aware of a situation that could be construed as sexual assault."
Anderson said the community deserves leaders it can trust and that he's looking forward to building back that trust.
James said that judgments on social media "is not the way something so sensitive should be handled," in a world of #MeToo and racial division. She asked for time for reflection and conversation, and not to use words as a weapon for personal vendettas.
"Everyone, please, take a step back and let's do this the right way," James asked.
Anderson said he learned about the allegations from the media and has had no contact with BLM5280. He is not a member of the organization although he has worked with them with other groups.
"If I have broken the law, I must be accountable just like any other citizen. I am not above the law," but he also does not believe in admitting to wrongdoing before knowing what's been alleged.
Decker added that they are fighting "the shadow of an accusation" that has no substance. He said that for a person who wants to remain anonymous, to be tagged with the very public BLM position does not seem to make sense.
Anderson is not blaming the victim for not coming forward sooner but the allegations are impossible to answer, Decker added.
Anderson discussed the times he has been a target for attacks prior to the BLM5280 allegations: he said he has received death threats that are under investigation by Denver Police; his address has been posted on social media (he's a frequent target of white supremacists) and that he no longer feels safe at home, nor does his mother.
"I just want to be safe and know the truth," he said.
To the victim or victims, Anderson said if he has overstepped or hurt anyone, "I deeply apologize.
"I want to take accountability. But I can't begin that accountability process until I know what I'm accused of, who's accusing. I still have the ability to know what's being brought forward... . I have to know what I've done, not just a broad allegation."
BLM5280 did not respond to an email seeking comment.