Skip to content

Former Denver church, school worker charged with raping 13-year-old girl in church: “I couldn’t believe this was happening to me”

Denver police and prosecutors are pursuing a rape case against a man who served as the music director at St. John’s School and church in southeast Denver, according to a CBS News Colorado investigation.

Diego Marroquin, 36, is facing one charge of sexual assault on a child under the age of 15 by a person in a position of trust. He allegedly raped a 13-year-old female student from the school on a balcony overlooking the church in May of 2022.


According to Denver police documents, the girl said, “my mind went black. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.”

Marroquin told CBS News Colorado he could not discuss the case on the advice of his attorney but that he hoped “the truth comes out.” His lawyer, Marshall Breit, declined to comment on the case against Marroquin.

The alleged sexual assault case has not been made public until now.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by CBS News Colorado, the teenager described Marroquin, who is originally from Guatemala, as “a worship leader at the church.”

She said on May 17, 2022, Marroquin asked her to help him with some work on the balcony of the church sanctuary. She said Marroquin then tried to kiss her and fondled her. She said she was “freaking out, really scared.. What did I do to deserve it? It was disgusting.”

The teenager described attempting to resist Marroquin: “… he pulled his jeans down then my jeans and started having sex with me.”

She said when it was over, she ran from the church.

CBS News Colorado is not identifying the alleged victim, but her mother, Jessica Vandam, said, “we’re fighting for our daughter.”

In an interview, Jessica and Aaron Vandam said after their daughter came forward in mid-August, three months after the alleged incident, church and school leaders said the teen was lying, the accusations amounted to slander and gossip and the parents say administrators warned them not to discuss the accusations with anyone.

“We were treated as guilty,” said Aaron Vandam, the girl’s father. “We were completely ostracized. We were treated as if we were the bad people.”

Within days after the accusations became known in August to the Vandams and to church administrators, the Vandams say church Pastor Andrew Farhat left them multiple voicemails, which they shared with CBS News Colorado. The voicemails preceded any police investigation into the matter.

“Nothing bad happened,” Farhat said in one of the messages. “I knew it was a lie so I wanted to squash it right away so that no one would think that the police need to be involved. Now we’re protecting victims of slander, don’t want that at our school.”

The Vandams say when Marroquin was allowed to remain at the school and church after church administrators knew of the alleged incident, they went to Denver police.

Christopher Yvars, an attorney for St. John’s School and church, told CBS News Colorado they have fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to. He declined further comment.

DPD charged Marroquin with a felony, and in November, police obtained an arrest warrant.

Marroquin’s social media profile indicated he had left Colorado at the start of November and relocated to Texas. The Vandams began tracking him through social media, eventually using that tracking to get him arrested.

Jessica Vandam said she knew that Marroquin might join his brother, who was connected to a church in Texas, and she was determined to find him.

“And so I began watching live feeds on Facebook of their churches,” she said.

She went on to say that she had a hunch that Marroquin would be playing in church services around Christmas, so she began watching closely. On Christmas Eve, as she was watching a live Facebook feed of a service from a church in McKinney, Texas, she said she spotted the suspect playing guitar with the church ensemble.

“It was a ‘holy crap’ moment,” she said. “I can’t believe I found him.”

She called local police, even sending them screenshots of the service so officers would know how Marroquin was dressed.

“And about an hour and a half, two hours later, we got a call he was arrested at the church,” said Jessica Vandam. “I had a lot of relief for the kids at that church that this wouldn’t happen to them. I was happy to hear he got arrested at a church because what he did to our daughter happened at a church.”

Aaron Vandam said, “she was the one who got him arrested. I’m proud of my wife but sad she had to do it because nobody else was going to.”

Both of the parents are registered nurses but wonder why they were the ones who had to pursue an arrest for Marroquin.

“I would never ask a family to do CPR on their loved one,” said the father.

Back in Colorado and free on bond, CBS News Colorado contacted Diego Marroquin at a court appearance where he declined to discuss the case.

His next court appearance is set for March.

The Vandams moved their two daughters out of St. John’s School in August, but say their now-14-year-old daughter has difficulty sleeping and has anxiety. They are working with a Denver law firm, Rathod Mohamedbhai, anticipating potential legal action against St. John’s.

“This will be a lifelong harm,” said Aaron Vandam.

CBS News Colorado contacted Denver Police Detective Asher Rose who said he could not comment on the Marroquin case as it remains an open and active investigation.

The mother and father said they hope that talking about their daughter’s case encourages other parents to support their children to speak up and be heard.

In a meeting with the St. John’s community in mid-November, School Principal Phil Barnard said they had installed additional cameras and were taking other steps to educate staff and students about awareness of potential criminal behavior.

“Our lives got turned upside down for being honest,” said Aaron Vandam. “Oftentimes the right thing to do isn’t the easy thing to do and our children deserve to have strong advocates.”

The Vandam family is related to a CBS News Colorado employee.

To view the article in it’s entirety, visit