The number of Texas teachers charged with sexual misconduct continues to escalate even while school is out for summer vacation. June brought more allegations of educators engaging in this disturbing behavior that violates the trust placed in them to protect the state’s school children.
On June 30, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accepted criminal charges against a former Houston Independent School District teacher, Steven Amedeo, 38. He stands accused of having an improper sexual relationship with an underage male student and faces a felony charge of sexual performance by a child. Earlier in the week, Amedeo surrendered to authorities but was released after posting $30,000 bail.
Houston ISD began investigating the Milby High culinary arts teacher in April after the victim’s girlfriend found inappropriate cell phone text messages between her boyfriend and Amedeo. She reported this to the school principal. Subsequently, the boy told police he and Amedeo exchanged cell phone numbers in Fall 2015 after which they began texting and running errands together. This led to Amedeo purportedly inviting the victim to his apartment where they had sex, KPRC 2 (NBC) reported. In a statement, Houston ISD said Amedeo was longer in their employ and underscored they take the situation very seriously. The “the safety of students” remains their “top priority.”
In North Texas, fourth grade Dallas ISD teacher Mark Stutheit, 59, appeared in a Fort Worth federal court on June 29, charged with receipt of child pornography. U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey L. Cureton ordered Stutheit to remain in custody until a grand jury hears his case within 30 days. The suspect had no criminal history but, if convicted, could face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release.
The Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas launched an investigation on the now former Reinhardt Elementary School teacher in May over alleged online kiddie porn activities discovered when he exchanged emails with a Queensland Police Service (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) undercover officer. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents obtained a search warrant for Stutheit’s Saginaw residence. On June 23, they seized evidence from his computer and mobile devices, and obtained numerous files containing child pornography.
KDFW 4 reported Stutheit told authorities he received and saved emails with child pornography from other online users. One was a graphic depiction of a prepubescent girl. Stutheit frequented a site known to law enforcement as a place to trade child pornographic images. Purportedly, he used the screen name “Old Man YG.” Stutheit’s attorney Samuel Terry said his client was not accused of producing child porn and no children he came in contact were victimized, according to WFAA 8.
Dallas ISD issued a statement Wednesday: “The safety of our students is vital, and we will support law enforcement and take the appropriate steps to keep our students safe.”
Earlier in June, a Burleson County grand jury indicted former Snook High School teacher’s aide Deanna Lara, 32, on three counts of sexual assault with a child and seven counts of having an improper relationship between and educator and a student. Lara was arrested and booked in the Brazos County Jail. Authorities released her after she posted $110,000 bond. She allegedly had four sexual encounters with minors under the age of 17 from late October to early November 2015, KAGS 6 (NBC) reported.
In Hutto, high school teacher Jake Fenske, 26, admitted he had sex with a 16-year-old female student multiple times, even inside his classroom, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Authorities charged the football coach and science teacher with the third degree felony of improper relationship between an educator and a student. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Police learned about the sexual misconduct after the alleged victim’s father found inappropriate Snapchat text messages from Fenske on his daughter’s cell phone. The State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC), which investigates educator sexual misconduct through the Texas Educator Investigations (EI) unit, intends to pursue revocation of Fenske’s teaching credentials.
Also in June, Breitbart Texas reported on former Austin area high school teacher Matthew Burton, 43, rearrested on June 17 after sending threatening text messages to a 16-year-old female student he lured into a sexual relationship with $3,700 cash, an engagement ring, and claims he was dying. Burton faces one count of sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony.
Breitbart News reported on Alexandria Vera, 24, the former Houston area middle school teacher charged on one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Vera allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old male student and became pregnant by her victim but had an abortion.
Between September 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) opened 162 cases of alleged sexual misconduct, 26 shy of last year’s 188 record-breaking number of cases. The 2014-15 academic year marked the 7th consecutive year reported teacher-student sexual misconduct incidents increased. The TEA reports its 2015-16 findings later this summer.
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