Embattled ex-Carpinteria teacher arrested in Colorado for sexually assaulting students

Da’Jon Tyrik James

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The former teacher at an elite boarding school in Carpinteria has been arrested in Colorado for sexual assaults on students at a private school in the Rocky Mountain state. He is also suspected of molesting students on the Central Coast.

Da’Jon Tyrik James, 27, allegedly sexually assaulted students currently and formerly enrolled at Cate School in Carpinteria. The assaults allegedly occurred on school property and while James was employed by Cate School, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. 

Cate is a four-year college preparatory boarding school that draws students from numerous states and countries. 

On April 1, the Santa Barbara sheriff’s office mounted an investigation into James based on information from mandated reporters who were speaking on behalf of the alleged sexual assault victims. On June 24, sheriff’s detectives and Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s investigators served warrants at the Cate School campus in an attempt to gather evidence.

Detectives have identified several sexual assault victims in the case, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not yet been located or contacted.

While at Cate School, James served as director of vocal music for six months beginning in the the fall of 2019. James also served as a “dorm parent” at Cate School, according to the LA Times.

Cate School parents told the LA Times James engaged in problematic behavior, including prolonged hugs and forehead kisses. One parent said, in 2019, her daughter reported to administrators that James made a sexual comment to other girls and her, but Cate School did not take adequate action and the teacher kept his job.

In addition to James’ case, Cate School has recently faced allegations of sexual misconduct involving faculty members and students that occurred several decades ago.

After leaving Cate School, James was a music teacher at the Dawson School in unincorporated Boulder County, Colorado. Spanning from Jan. 2021 to Feb. 4. 2021, James inappropriately touched four female students at the Dawson School, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. Two of the students were 17 years old, one was 18 and one was 19.

James allegedly subjected the four students to inappropriate language, sexually explicit imagery, prolonged hugging, fondling, inappropriate complimenting and inappropriate kissing on their foreheads. All of the incidents allegedly occurred on the Dawson campus during school hours. 

In late July, Boulder County deputies arrested James on two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and one count of unlawful sexual contact. Deputies booked James in jail, but he has since been released from custody.

James has yet to face charges for the alleged sexual assaults at Cate School, but a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s investigation is ongoing. Santa Barbara detectives have been in contact with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.  

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