Incidents of Texas educators accused of sexual misconduct with students and other related inappropriate behaviors continue to trickle in over these final weeks of summer vacation.
While the Texas Education Agency (TEA) inches closer to its annual deadline for releasing the number of reported cases in the 2015-16 school year, the reality of such improper relationships remains a violation of the public trust on its youth.
On Monday, an ongoing educator sexual misconduct case concluded when U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant sentenced former north Texas elementary school principal Oscar Figueroa to 10 years in federal prison and ordered him to pay $17,600 in fines and assessments, U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced. Breitbart Texas first reported on Figueroa, 47, last year after officials charged him with one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
Figueroa, the former principal of Viridian Elementary in the Dallas area Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB) school district, was under investigation after placing a Craigslist online ad seeking “male-male” oral sex at a movie theater with “young partners.” An undercover male police officer answered the ad, posing as a 16-year-old. The two began to text, arranging to meet at the fashionable Frisco Stonebriar Centre Mall AMC movie theater. Instead of a hook up, Figueroa was arrested as he and the undercover officer walked to a unisex bathroom. In July, a federal grand jury indicted Figueroa. During the trial, the feds introduced Figueroa’s text messages with the undercover agent, his interview with law enforcement, approximately 120 Craigslist ads Figueroa posted seeking sexual activity, and the contents of his cellular phone, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas. In addition to 120 months of federal prison, Figueroa will be required to register as a sex offender.
Last week, Harris County authorities charged a now former Katy High School art teacher with having an improper relationship with a student in 2015. Katy school district police arrested Robert Evan Milton, 42, for the alleged sexual misconduct an 18-year-old female student in her senior year. He bonded out of jail on $30,000.
According to the Harris County Court’s probable cause document, the relationship began over Instagram, where Milton purportedly said he was in an unhappy marriage and “he was available to date.” The alleged victim admitted to authorities she had a crush on her teacher, who also was a photographer. On April 19, 2015, he took her senior pictures at Houston’s Cullen Sculpture Garden. A sudden rain storm led them to his car for shelter. There, they kissed and fondled each other. The teen told police after this encounter she “would try to spend time with him in the classroom.”
On Thursdays, she stayed after school and the two went into a classroom storage closet to kiss and touch. Not long after, the teen said they had sex. Milton allegedly rented cheap motel rooms for 2-3 hour trysts on several occasions. According to the warrant, he paid in cash. One time, they had sex in his parked car and were interrupted by a police officer.
“She stated that she was embarrassed about being caught but told the officer that she was of legal age,” the court document stated. She also said it was consensual sex. “She explained she remembered the officer telling the Defendant that he (the Defendant) was “old enough to be her father and to get out of there,” the report stated.
Another Houston area educator, Oscar Perez, 44, was accused of molesting a third grade girl in the Clear Creek school district over incidents that allegedly happened in 2009. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office arrested the McWhirter Elementary teacher and charged him with continued sexual abuse of a child. Houston’s KPRC 2 (NBC) reported the alleged victim, now in high school, told police investigators Perez purportedly sexually assaulted her when she stayed after school for STAAR test tutoring.
Once the school district was notified of the student’s complaint in late April, they put Perez on administrative leave. Perez, however, denied the charges, saying it did not happen. He bonded out of jail on $40,000 and will next appear in court on August 8.
Interestingly, Galveston detectives found a February 2016 complaint by a current student against Perez in his school district personnel file. The unnamed minor claimed Perez rubbed her leg during an exam and made her feel uncomfortable, said KPRC 2. Clear Creek school district officials put him on leave while they investigated the claim but ultimately found no reason to discipline him.
The TEA’s fiscal year ends on August 31 after which they will release their annual figures on teacher improprieties. During the 2014-2015 school year, the state’s educator sexual misconduct cases increased for the seventh consecutive year.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.