A former Houston Independent School District information technology worker appeared in court Thursday under allegations he impregnated a 13-year-old student.
Harris County officials arrested Mauricio Orlando Mendoza on Wednesday and charged him with the sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. If convicted, he faces the possibility of life in prison. At the same time, the judge ordered that Mendoza remain in jail until he can turn in his passport. His bond was set at $50,000.
According to the Houston Chronicle, prosecutors revealed the 13-year-old girl was tested for pregnancy and the results came back positive. Said Assistant Harris County District Attorney Patrick Stayton: “The defendant is believed to be the father of the unborn child.”
Mendoza, 37, is a legal immigrant from El Salvador who has been in the United States with his wife and children for about five years. Prosecutors believe Mendoza and the girl had sex in his office and in the school library. The girl’s mother found illicit text messages between her daughter and Mendoza in December and reported this information to the middle school’s administration.
Mendoza no longer works for the school district. On Wednesday, Houston ISD issued a statement, acknowledging these sexual misconduct allegations were first reported to school officials in December. Officials immediately removed Mendoza from the campus and launched an internal investigation.
The school district’s statement also confirmed that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accepted criminal charges against Mendoza following a school district police investigation into reports he engaged in inappropriate conduct with a student while working at Hartman Middle School.
“The administration also notified HISD Police and Children’s Protective Services (CPS) of the allegation. Police conducted a lengthy and thorough investigation, which they concluded this month. Police presented findings from their investigation to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which accepted criminal charges,” said Houston ISD.
This latest shocking sexual misconduct incident in Texas follows several others in recent weeks, including a male high school teacher accused of filming teenage girls in a campus changing room and a female teacher who allegedly had sex with an underage student.
Earlier in March, the state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 7, which legislators hope will crack down on the eight-year wave of this kind of wayward wanton behavior occurring in Texas classrooms. The bill’s author, Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) called this epidemic of education professionals preying on Texas school children a “plague.” The bill, now in the House Education Committee, is scheduled for a public hearing on March 27.
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