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Former Northern Colorado teacher and Boy Scout leader convicted of raping boys for nearly 20 years

Former teacher, Boy Scout leader sentenced to 16 years for sexual abuse of children
Former teacher, Boy Scout leader sentenced to 16 years for sexual abuse of children 02:06

A former middle school teacher and Boy Scout leader will spend the next 16 years in prison after admitting to sexually abusing multiple children in his past. Robert Denise, a retired teacher from Poudre School District, pleaded guilty to felony sexual exploitation of a child and was sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections on Thursday afternoon.

Robert Denise Larimer County

Denise used to work at Cache La Poudre Middle School, a part of PSD, for many years. He also worked at Ben Delatour Boy Scout Camp decades ago. Both locations were places he preyed on teenage boys -- crimes he admitted to.

"Robert Denise was a predator," said Bobby Moll, a captain with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

That investigators know of, for 17 years Denise molested and raped teenage boys, most of whom he knew from his time as a teacher. The crimes all took place in the early 2000s.

"This was over a 20-year-old case," Moll told CBS News Colorado's Dillon Thomas.

Investigators first learned of Denise's crimes when one Fort Collins man came forward saying he was a victim of Denise's abuse decades ago. After they released some information from their investigation, LCSO said at least four other victims came forward also saying they had been sexually abused by Denise as children.

CBS News Colorado agreed not to share the names of the victims in the case due to the nature of the crimes and the age in which the men were when they were assaulted.

"These five victims that came forward were super brave and did the right thing," Moll said.

In Larimer County Court, victims of Denise shared how he abused them and altered their lives. Much of the details shared were very graphic.

Some victims recalled Denise pulling them into the CLP Middle School library where he touched their genitals. Others recalled Denise cuddling them and rubbing their bodies in tents at Ben Delatour scouting camp.

Some victims shared that Denise had raped them in a shower at his house after telling them they needed to do yardwork for him to avoid punishment for wrongdoing in school. Others said Denise forced them to have sexual intercourse with him in tents while on scouting trips.

For some, the sexual abuse lasted for weeks or months. However, the mental abuse has lasted decades.

Moll said the men who shared their stories were possibly retraumatized by sharing their past, but did so in hope of making sure Denise was held accountable.

"We call it revictimization, because they have to go back through what happened," Moll said.

When CBS News Colorado's Dillon Thomas first reported on Denise's arrest in 2023 some former students emailed Thomas claiming the reports were false and not possible.

Denise confessed to his crimes.

However, his defense did bring a plastic container to his sentencing which was filled with letters students and parents wrote him over the years, thanking him for his service as an educator.

Some of Denise's former students and coworkers also testified on his behalf saying he was an outstanding person and a trustworthy teacher.

The judge later said he didn't see how Denise's positive impact on some kids outweighed the rape of several others.

The judge sentenced Denise to multiple 16 year sentences in the Department of Corrections  that will run concurrently. 16 years was the maximum sentence Denise could receive under a plea agreement. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

When it comes to the sexual abuse of a child there are not statutes of limitations in Colorado. Moll said investigators, even after decades, had credible evidence proving Denise's guilt even before he admitted to his crimes.

Denise addressed the court, saying he took blame for his actions multiple times. He also apologized to the victims and said they should not feel any fault for what happened, saying he took all the fault for himself.

Some victims said they have experienced issues with drug and alcohol abuse since their assaults, and all said they now experience insecurities with intimacy.

Most of the victims in the room stood and watched as Denise was handcuffed and taken into custody to serve his time.


 In an interview with Thomas following the sentencing, one victim shared his frustrations that PSD allowed Denise to retire even after learning of the crimes he was facing prosecution for. Watch Thomas's interview with that victim.

CBS News Colorado reached out to PSD and the Boy Scouts seeking interview or comment for this report. The Boy Scouts have yet to reply, and a spokesperson for PSD said they would be issuing a statement to their community on Friday.

Moll said the men who came forward were brave and should be proud of themselves for doing what many others have difficulty doing.

"95% of males that are victims do not report a crime," Moll said.

Moll said he doesn't have any physical evidence that Denise abused anyone other than the five men who came forward in this case. However, he said he personally believes there are other victims as well. The judge also mentioned the possibility of other victims existing, but the court was unable to factor that into a sentence without any proof.

"It is sad to say, but you know this probably isn't an isolated event," Moll said. "I do believe there are other victims out there that chose not to come forward."

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