ST. GEORGE — State prosecutors moved to dismiss a child abuse charge against a former Red Rock Canyon School employee during a resolution hearing Tuesday after months of back-and-forth.
The employee, 38-year-old Gino Euler Sanchez, faced a class A misdemeanor count of child abuse involving physical injury after allegedly punching a student during a riot at the youth treatment facility in April.
In the weeks leading up to the decision, Sanchez’ attorney Daniel Tobler reported to Judge Jeffrey Wilcox that he and prosecuting attorney James Weeks were close to reaching an agreement.
Months later, Weeks — on behalf of the Utah Attorney General’s Office — moved to dismiss the charge, adding that Tobler didn’t have any objections.
“We believed from the beginning the evidence would exonerate Mr. Sanchez,” Tobler told St. George News in a statement. “When the riot started, Mr. Sanchez only defended himself and others, sustaining multiple injuries in the process. He did not assault or seek to hurt anyone.”
According to the statement, Tobler said Sanchez worked at Red Rock Canyon School for years with an impeccable record before the incident on April 28 occurred.
He said Sanchez believes the school’s owners and administrators were happy to let the blame fall to him after the school failed to follow mandatory state safety guidelines in an attempt to take the focus off of them.
“In the end, the alleged victim in the criminal case against Mr. Sanchez has disappeared,” Tobler reported. “Mr. Sanchez is grateful to the prosecution for agreeing to close this matter so that he and his family may move past this incident.”
Following the riot, Sequel Youth and Family Services, the parent company of Red Rock Canyon School, announced on July 9 that the company was electing to close the facility and relinquish its license within 60 days. The company closed Red Rock Canyon School’s doors in September after 20 years of providing psychiatric residential treatment services to youth from 12-18 years old.
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