School may be out for summer but allegations, arrests, and even indictments of Texas teachers continue over purported dalliances with underage students.
On Friday, police arrested a long-time south Texas teacher following accusations he acted inappropriately with an Alice Independent School District female middle schooler earlier this year. The alleged victim’s parents discovered troubling text messages on their daughter’s cell phone which they reported to authorities. Alice police booked Javier Hernandez, 51, into the Jim Wells County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Although officials have not yet released additional case details, Alice Police Sergeant Enrique Saenz told KIII the girl’s parents felt upset, shocked and devastated, questioning how a Memorial Intermediate teacher could take advantage of their daughter. He suggested a few ways parents can better safeguard underaged minors against potential predators, including keeping their children’s security codes handy and checking their cell phones and apps frequently. “They tend to be able to hide a lot of the text messaging that won’t show up in a phone bill,” said Saenz.
Following the arrest, Alice ISD Superintendent Dr. Alma Charles issued a statement indicating the district continues to work with police on the investigation. “Due to serious nature of these charges, and the information from law enforcement, the district is taking steps to end the employment of this individual,” she said. “We do not know if such conduct is alleged to have occurred at school.”
In north Texas Thursday, substitute teacher Spencer Colt Newton turned himself into Denton police once allegations surfaced he had sex with a 17-year-old female student at Ryan High School.
Police say they launched an investigation on May 17 after receiving a report of a possible educator-student improper relationship in Denton ISD. A school staffer told administrators she saw Newton, 26, and an underage female student leave the campus parking lot in the teacher’s truck. Subsequently, district officials spoke to the teen who divulged she and Newton became intimate in January through text messages and sharing nude photos of themselves over Snapchat. The girl also told police she performed oral sex on Newton twice and they had sex in a parking lot off campus in March, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. Police records revealed the pair last rendezvoused in May when Newton asked the teen to perform oral sex on him in a campus portable building. However, she declined because they were at school.
At first, Newton denied the allegations when questioned by Denton police but later admitted his involvement, saying the student “did not make it hard for him,” and asserted she threw herself at him. He also blamed his own youth and “wrong headed” thinking for crossing the line sexually with a student, according to the affidavit. Newton, taken into custody and held on $10,000 bail, faces the second degree felony of improper relationship between educator and student. District officials terminated his position in May once the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.
Previously, Breitbart Texas reported on east Texas kindergarten teacher Heather Lee Robertson, 38, accused of bedding four male high school students, two of whom she hooked up with for a three-way sexual romp. On June 29, a grand jury indicted her on 21 charges, including six counts of improper educator and student relationships and 15 sexual assault charges, according to the Lufkin Daily News. Authorities tacked on additional sex-related misconduct charges and two Class B misdemeanors for driving while intoxicated from a May 1 court hearing. She remains in the Angelina County Jail on more than $600,000 bail, which includes $50,000 for each of the six inappropriate relationship charges. If convicted, Robertson faces up to 20 years in prison. This case came to light in April when a Hudson ISD police officer got a tip high school boys were involved with a teacher. During an investigation, two of the teens said their relationships with Robertson began over Snapchat. Robertson confessed to all wrongdoing.
The number of reported teacher sexual misconduct incidents escalated each year from 123 cases in the 2008-09 school year to 222 in 2015-16, Breitbart Texas reported. In the six months between September 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) opened 159 cases. Last year, the agency asked state lawmakers to fund nearly $400,000 into their 2018-19 academic budget so they may hire two more investigators and an administrator to better work all these cases.
In May, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 7 to curb this problem of lustful educator interactions with students. SB 7 imposes harsh punishments on those who violate the public trust by having sexual relations with school children and also holds principals and superintendents to account with fines and jail time should they look the other way or fail to report lascivious teacher misconduct. SB 7 goes into effect on September 1.
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