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          Front Page




Principal Can Go Back to Work

By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
    An elementary principal accused of raping a student six years ago at a school he never taught at is expected to return to work next week.
    The Pajarito Elementary principal has been on paid leave since late August, when the parents of a now 17-year-old girl claimed he had raped their daughter in 2001 while she was attending Polk Middle School. The principal was an elementary teacher elsewhere at the time.
    Thursday, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said the case was closed due to insufficient evidence but could be re-opened if other evidence surfaced. Charges had never been brought against the man.
    "Primarily, we have a victim who refuses to testify," Brandenburg said. "We don't have enough to prosecute."
    Some 35 Pajarito parents showed up Thursday night for a meeting with APS officials on the principal's return, APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said.
    "They all stood and applauded when they heard he was coming back," Armenta said.
    Police had referred the case to the DA's office after closing their investigation last month. The alleged victim had refused to meet with detectives to review inconsistencies in her initial report, among them witnesses who could not corroborate her statements.
    She had told police in September she was raped by a teacher while she was attending Polk in the fall of 2001. Employment records and witnesses confirmed the man she accused was teaching at a South Valley elementary and never worked at Polk.
    Police had said they could not clear the man completely because he and the family knew each other through youth sports and there could have been contact with the victim outside of school.
    Brandenburg's announcement, however, means the employee can return from paid leave, Armenta said.
    "He has said all along that's his community," she said. "... He wishes to return. His concerns were with the kids in that community."