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Judge orders Auon’tai Anderson to pay $60K in legal fees to BLM 5280, leader he sued for defamation

A judge last week ordered former Denver school board vice president Auon’tai Anderson to pay $61,060 to cover the legal fees of Black Lives Matter 5280 and Amy Brown, two former defendants in a defamation suit he filed in 2021 after being accused of sexual assault.

An investigation initiated by Denver Public Schools found the sexual assault allegations against Anderson to be unsubstantiated.

A Denver District Court judge dismissed most of Anderson’s lawsuit in 2022, except for a defamation claim against a Parker activist who made allegations against him on her Facebook page. Last year, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld most of the lower court’s decision, but reversed the dismissal of part of Anderson’s claims against a parent who posted allegations about him on social media after testifying before state legislators. 

Friday’s order by Denver District Judge David H. Goldberg requiring Anderson to pay BLM 5280 and Brown’s legal fees was first reported by the Colorado Sun.

“I’m disappointed in the judge’s ruling but I don’t believe my team and I have exhausted all legal options,” Anderson said Wednesday, adding that he is considering appealing the order.

Representatives for BLM 5280 and Brown, who was a volunteer board member for the nonprofit, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anderson filed his lawsuit after BLM 5280 relayed an anonymous allegation of sexual assault against him in 2021.

Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education hired an outside firm to investigate that allegation and others made against Anderson. Though the investigation found the sexual assault claims to be unsubstantiated, it reported that Anderson had flirted online with a teenage student and made intimidating social media posts. The latter findings led the school board to publicly censure Anderson.

DPS paid Anderson, whose term on the school board ended last year, a $3,500 settlement to help cover legal fees he incurred when the school board investigated the allegations against him.

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