BURLINGTON, Wis. — A Burlington teacher’s aide at Dyer Elementary School has been charged with three counts of repeated sexual assault of child, and a parent is questioning why the alleged wrongdoing wasn’t dealt with earlier.
Daniel Powers, 57, was taken into custody by Racine County Sheriff’s deputies after the district made them aware of complaints.
At least three students came forward to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office in April with complaints about the teacher’s aide touching them inappropriately. Investigators interviewed three 10-year-old 5th grade girls about the allegations.
Court documents say the students alleged Powers touched them both above and below their clothing. Powers was eventually arrested and charged.
The Burlington Area School District notified parents in a letter of the arrest. They released a statement to the media saying they were made aware of the allegations on April 13, and the man was fired after an investigation on April 20.
Kaitlynn Ropp has a 9 year old daughter in 3rd grade at the school and she says she met with Principal Scott Schimmel in mid-February after her daughter told her Powers spoke to her inappropriately. At that point Ropp says there were no allegations of inappropriate touching, but she felt not enough was done.
“I send my daughter to school thinking she’s in a safe space and I put my faith in the principal thinking that he’ll do the right thing and I was let down,” says Ropp.
TMJ4 News asked the district to clarify its timeline of events Wednesday night. A district spokesperson responded in an email: “As the district investigates the concern it received on April 13, the district has learned that a parent spoke to school staff in February. It is an ongoing investigation.”
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling’s office is investigating the alleged crimes. He told TMJ4 he has concerns about the timeline of events as well.
“I am working closely with the school board. Our investigative team is as well to establish what went wrong if anything. When did they learn information, when was it brought forward to law enforcement,” said Schmaling.
As of Wednesday night, three victims are listed in the criminal complaint, but the Sheriff’s office says as many as 15 are currently being interviewed. Powers has worked at the school for 15 years, and Schmaling believes there could be more victims, some may be adults.
“I’ve worked these cases before and it starts out with one and it goes into dozens and dozens,” Schmaling said.
If you believe your child has been victimized by Powers or are a victim as well, please contact Investigator Andrew Willis at 262.636.3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.