A North Texas teacher, accused of impregnating his 15-year-old student, surrendered to authorities Friday. This marks another improper teacher-student relationship that resulted in pregnancy recently amid the state’s skyrocketing number of sexual misconduct cases filed this year.
Tarrant County Sheriffs took Cornelius Antoine Smith, 26, a former speech teacher and coach at Euless Junior High in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB) Independent School District, into custody on July 22. However, they charged him with sexual assault of a child under the age of 17, a second degree felony, on June 23.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, Smith went to visit Euless police on June 3 with the girl’s parents and aunt, all of whom only spoke Spanish. Although told he did not have to speak to authorities, Smith agreed to an interview. He told a detective he and the purported victim had sexual intercourse once for about 10 seconds in a parking lot of a vacant 99 Cent Store around May 11. He said he did not use a condom nor believed he ejaculated.
On June 15, the girl told investigators a different account. She said the relationship with Smith became physical last fall following several conversations over the social media phone app Kik. The Star-Telegram noted the teen said Smith emailed her to go to his classroom during his conference period. There they kissed and, at some point, she performed oral sex on him. During spring break, she said they had oral sex and sexual intercourse at her house — on more than one occasion — usually after 5 p.m. when her parents were not in the home. The girl said Smith told her he used a condom.
In June, the girl learned she was pregnant. According to the arrest affidavit, Smith told the girl “he would help her if she was going to have the child or have an abortion. He also advised her that he would have to take his wife and children to East Texas first, before he could care for her and the child,” KDFW 4 (Fox) reported.
Cell phone messages pulled off the victim’s phone by her mother corroborated the teen’s account of events. To avoid being fired, Smith resigned from his teaching post once HEB ISD officials began the temination process. The school posted a formal statement on their Facebook page:
“In an effort to be transparent with our HEB ISD community, the district is sharing the following information. HEB ISD was notified by the Euless Police Department that Mr. Cornelius Smith, a teacher and coach at Euless Junior High, was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student. The Human Resources Department met with him immediately and indicated to him the District’s intent to terminate his employment. When presented with this information, Mr. Smith resigned.
Mr. Smith was in his first year with the District, was thoroughly vetted prior to his employment, and had no offenses on his record. Additionally, reference checks were conducted with former employers who indicated Mr. Smith was a quality employee. Our District goes above and beyond to secure all information before we hire an individual.
HEB ISD will not tolerate inappropriate interactions or communication with students. The District is cooperating with the local police and immediately notified the State Board for Educator Certification. The district has also reached out to the family of the victim to provide support for the student and her family.”
Despite Smith crossing the line with a minor, the teen told authorities she wanted it known the sex was consensual. Smith was released Friday from the Tarrant County Jail on $75,000 bail.
In June, Breitbart News reported 24-year-old former Aldine Independent School District middle school teacher, Alexandria Vera, surrendered to authorities in Houston on charges of engaging in a sexually inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old male student. She admitted becoming pregnant by him but got an abortion after Child Protective Services (CPS) learned of the situation and began asking questions.
The number of Texas teachers engaging in sexually inappropriate acts with their students continues to climb. As the Texas Education Agency (TEA) inches closer to reporting their year-end findings, up to 190 cases were opened in 2015-16, Austin’s KXAN reported.
Breitbart Texas reported 2014-15 marked the seventh consecutive year Texas teacher sexual misconduct with students increased. The TEA reported a record-breaking 188 cases. Between October 2007 and June 2015, at least 638 teachers lost their licenses following TEA investigations into alleged improper sexual misconduct with students. Last year, agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe told Breitbart Texas: “It’s very discouraging to see the number of cases on the rise.” She pointed out, despite these troubling statistics, the majority of Texas educators act in a moral and ethical way.
“This small number of bad actors not only hurt children, which is unforgiveable, but are hurting the teaching profession as well. We are vigorously prosecuting these cases of inappropriate relationships,” said Ratcliffe. The TEA reports case findings at the end of their fiscal year in late August.
The Texas Senate Education Committee met last winter to assess the role social media plays in fostering these troubling relationships. They worked on drafting policy solutions to present during the next legislative session in 2017.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.