A north Texas high school teacher could face significant time behind bars if found guilty of secretly filming six female students without their knowledge in “various stages of undress.”
Thursday, Carrollton police arrested George Edwin Thomas III, an R.L. Turner High School science teacher in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. Officers charged Thomas with six counts of invasive visual recording, a state jail felony.
Thomas, 54, stands accused of playing Peeping Tom with hidden recording devices that filmed the female students while they changed into uniforms during the 2015-16 school year. Detectives identified six teenage girls on the existing footage, so far.
KDFW reported accusations surfaced after Thomas’ girlfriend discovered a random thumb drive on the floor of the apartment the couple shared. With a friend, she viewed it on the computer, only to discover “multiple video recordings of teenage girls disrobing in a closet,” according to the arrest warrant. The police report also stated that the thumb drive had “recordings that appeared to be at a teacher’s desk with female students being called to the desk.”
Carrollton police documents revealed Thomas “admitted that he recorded videos on his phone in class, but the recordings were of activities for the students to watch and learn,” according to KDFW.
The school district placed Thomas on administrative leave and opened an investigation. Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD officials released a statement indicating they first learned of the “allegations of inappropriate conduct” against Thomas on February 22. “The district placed the teacher on administrative leave and is cooperating fully with all local and state authorities,” said the school district.
Thomas remained at the Carrollton City Jail Thursday; his bail, not yet set, the Dallas Morning News reported. A press release issued by the Carrollton Police defined invasive visual recording as a violation of Texas Penal Code, Section 21.15 (a)(2)(b), which details the criteria of the offense.
A similar sexually inappropriate situation happened in Houston when area choir teacher Clarence Appleby III was charged with secretly videotaping a 17-year-old female student in a Katy ISD high school changing room. In October, Breitbart Texas reported campus police arrested Appleby on one count of felony improper photography. He bonded out of the Harris County Jail on $30,000 bail. The school district then fired him.
Thomas’ arrest follows the state Senate unanimously passing Senate Bill 7 on Wednesday. The bill, authored by Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), intends to crack down on an eight year wave of this rampant, wanton educator behavior in Texas classrooms. Recently, Bettencourt characterized the epidemic of education professionals sexually preying on school children as a statewide “plague,” which Breitbart Texas reported.
A few of the bill’s key points are expanding the investigative authority of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), criminalizing the failure of school district administrators to report incidences of educator sexual misconduct, and revoking teaching credentials from educators even when they receive deferred adjudication for improper relationships or other related offenses that require registration as a sex offender, Breitbart Texas reported. The bill also bars school districts from allowing educators accused of such sexual misconduct from getting rehired in other school districts where they often offend again.
Recently, SB 7 folded in amendments from Senators Van Taylor (R-Plano) and Royce West (D-Dallas) that clarified teacher preparation training, the specific reporting role of school administrators, and pension revocation for educators convicted of sexually violating their students.
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