Trinidad Colorado is a deceptively charming little western town. It’s conveniently located on I-25 halfway between Denver and Albuquerque, NM where it’s nestled at the base of a distinctive mesa named Fisher’s Peak. Trinidad’s streets are lined with gorgeous, if poorly maintained, old buildings; and its citizens, who frequently wave to strangers, seem unusually friendly. But beneath all that friendly western charm is a dirty little “secret” that the locals tacitly accept as normal and acceptable behavior.
If you’re considering moving there, you should know the truth about Trinidad, CO, and you certainly won’t hear it from the locals. That charming little town happens to be a safe haven for sexual predators with a taste for young girls. The Trinidad school district not only employs multiple sexual predators, but it goes to great lengths to protect them, too. Despite a nearly continuous stream of allegations of inappropriate contact with students that spans decades, most of these predators (primarily athletic coaches) continue to be employed by this school district or neighboring districts within Las Animas County.
My husband and I have written about two of those predators before. You can read about them here and here. I’ve also tried to inform concerned parents about certain resources for researching the chronic sexual abuse of minors in Trinidad public schools. Unfortunately, one of the most compelling resources, a court transcript that implicates the current athletic director at Trinidad High School for the sexual assault of a student, is currently being withheld from the public.
Ironically, the brave woman who first came forward with public allegations against the alpha dog of Trinidad’s pack of sexual predators is no longer employed by School District #1. Yet, her abuser and most of his cronies remain gainfully employed and have unfettered access to minors. There are whistle-blower laws that are supposed to protect people who come forward with this sort of information from the blatant retaliation she’s endured, but people in Trinidad are stubbornly indifferent to laws that don’t serve their personal interests. To say the town of Trinidad is corrupt is a gross understatement.
If you’re thinking about moving to Trinidad Colorado, think again. If you’re thinking about visiting Trinidad, think again. If your young athletes compete against Trinidad, Hoehne, Primero, or Raton schools, monitor them carefully whenever they’re in or around those schools. If your young athletes participate in the annual TSJC Invitational Basketball Tournament, don’t allow them to do so without close supervision.
Trinidad is so proud of its sports tradition that the community is stubbornly resistant to acknowledging the dark side of that tradition. The small number of us, mostly victims of sexual assaults that occurred while we were students in Las Animas County schools, who dare to speak out are dismissed as alarmists. Or worse, we’re publicly attacked and harassed by an abhorrent group of people determined to protect Trinidad’s sexual predators. Ironically, some members of that group are victims of the very men they’re trying to protect. Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps?
The idea of defending a sexual predator in order to spare one’s self the embarrassment of publicly acknowledging past abuse sickens me, but that’s precisely what many victims have chosen to do. Those who aren’t overtly defending their abusers remain silent. Too few have the courage to tell the truth, which is a shame because the truth is infinitely less destructive than silence. Choosing to ignore cancer doesn’t make it go away–it allows it to spread and metastasize until it finally kills you. Or in this case, until it kills your little sister’s, niece’s, daughter’s, or granddaughter’s childhood.
I was born and raised in Trinidad, which I’ve cynically thought of as “Dysfunction Junction” since I was a teenager, and I’ve often wondered why places like Trinidad exist. What is their purpose? One thing is certain: it’s a damned difficult place to grow up–particularly for young women. My hope is that Trinidad will ultimately become a cautionary tale about the dangers of turning a blind eye to the abuse of a vulnerable segment of the population. Presently, it’s a sanctuary and training ground for a close-knit group of sexual predators whose arrogance defies all logic.
I wasn’t assaulted by a teacher or coach while attending Trinidad High School. Although “Coach” Dasko attempted to lure me in with his suggestive note in my yearbook, he didn’t achieve his goal. Instead, I was assaulted by a group of former Trinidad football players. They were all in their twenties at the time. I was sixteen. One of my abusers is the son of a retired coach at Trinidad High School who is believed to have had inappropriate relations with multiple students. Two are brothers who are now employed by the City of Trinidad. The apples don’t fall far from the trees in that town. There are generations of predators, fathers and sons, who have been accused of sexual assault. Yet, nothing there has changed. Not yet, anyway. To coin a phrase from the movie, Gladiator, “the time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end,” Coach.