Guam Police Clear Acting Education Superintendent Of Criminal Allegations

Former Principal accused of filing false criminal complaints in retaliation for being placed on leave

By Haidee V Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3, 2017) – The Guam Police Department cleared acting Education Superintendent Joe Sanchez of criminal allegations lodged against him by former J.P. Torres Success Academy Principal Eleuterio "Eli" Mesa, who was placed on administrative leave at least three times in 2016 for alleged misconduct, blackmail and sexual harassment.

Mesa alleged in December that Sanchez provided marijuana to minors, an allegation that Sanchez described as false.

On Tuesday morning, Sanchez said he’s thankful that the police immediately investigated Mesa’s allegations against him and found them to be untrue.

“Generally, I’m just very thankful that they treated it as a priority and it was something that they paid attention to and conducted the investigation. And from my understanding, it was very thorough. They spoke to all the individuals involved or named in the allegation,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said Tuesday he believes Mesa filed the police complaint as a form of retaliation against him for placing Mesa on administrative leave over a sexual harassment complaint from a student.

Mesa did not return multiple calls Tuesday, for comment.

In November, Sanchez had placed Mesa, the assistant superintendent for Vocational Technical Education, on paid administrative leave for 20 days after Ashlee Santos, a 20-year-old student at J.P. Torres Success Academy, filed a complaint alleging that Mesa asked her and another female student if they were virgins and whether they had been having intercourse with their boyfriends.

Mesa called Santos' statements a lie. He said the lies were made up to protect Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez, whom Mesa earlier accused of sexually harassing another student, Alana Flores.

Mesa lodged a criminal complaint against Sanchez before the acting superintendent could decide on the results of the internal investigation into Mesa’s alleged sexual harassment.

Police Chief Joseph Cruz, in a Dec. 28 letter to the Guam Education Board, said the GPD Criminal Investigations Division completed its investigation on Dec. 23 and found that there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations made by Mesa against Sanchez.

“On Dec. 23, 2016, the CID completed its thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations, and concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate the allegations, and therefore recommended that no further action be taken,” Cruz said in a letter to the education board, which was set to hold a special meeting Tuesday night to elect new officers, among other things.

Cruz said the police department is no longer investigating this matter unless new and relevant information is provided.

The education board, in a statement Tuesday morning, thanked the police chief and the entire police department for making the investigation a priority, and for the department's work on the issue.

“Based on these findings, the GEB now considers this matter closed, with no further action needed,” the board stated.

Sanchez, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that Mesa was back to work at the Guam DOE central office after his 20-day paid administrative leave and will soon receive information about the results of the investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed students.

“We will be meeting with him shortly regarding that case. Unfortunately, that’s a personnel matter, so I can’t provide much detail,” he said.

Sanchez said he’s reviewing the Mesa investigation report.

“I know he’s going to cite the 60-day rule, so there’s no adverse action that will be taking place, but there may be some actions that we need to discuss with him,” Sanchez added.

Government of Guam personnel rules state an agency has only 60 days to take adverse action against an employee from the time it knew, or should have known, about the employee's improper actions.

Days before Christmas, Mesa told the media that the 60-day deadline for Sanchez to decide on the complaint against him was drawing near.

Mesa is also currently negotiating with the Guam Department of Education the payment of nearly $300,000 in back pay from the agency. Mesa agreed to retire from Guam DOE once he gets his back pay, with approved taxes.  Sanchez said the only stumbling block is an agreed-upon tax rate and deduction, which the Guam DOE is currently working on with the Department of Revenue and Taxation and the Government of Guam Employees Retirement Fund.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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