A Texas junior high school teacher was arrested for allegedly trying to sex traffic an underage female family member with men in Morocco, say local law enforcement authorities.
Following a joint investigation conducted by sheriff’s offices in Freestone and McLellan counties, detectives took into custody Amber Michelle Parker, 37, on Wednesday.
Parker, an eighth grade reading teacher in the Mexia Independent School District, had been under investigation since family members contacted local detectives with concerns that Parker was trying to prostitute the girl to men overseas, according to a statement released by Freestone County Sheriff Jeremy Shipley.
“After a joint investigation between Freestone County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Investigator Preston Cordova and McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci, a female suspect was placed under arrest for the offense of Trafficking of Persons after conspiring to traffic a minor child to numerous male subjects online in Morocco,” said Shipley.
He told KWTX: “She was online talking to multiple guys in Morocco trying to get it set up where she could take her with her over there to them.”
Shipley added that the Freestone Sheriff’s office reached out to investigators with the McLellan County Sheriff’s office in Central Texas as they have expertise in combating human trafficking.
McLellan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told the Waco Tribune-Herald that family members believed Parker tried to make arrangements in December to take the girl to Morocco and meet with multiple men and allow them to have sex with the girl.
McNamara said authorities monitored Parker’s alleged activities for months. He said Parker posted photos of the girl in lingerie and with her breasts exposed on social media accounts promoting the girl as a virgin and sought men interested in having sex with the minor.
The McLellan County sheriff noted that Scaramucci helped authorities write and execute search warrants for electronic devices and other evidence in this case.
“Family members got wind that Parker was going to try to lure this girl to Morocco,” said McNamara. He said the girl did not go with Parker when the teacher traveled to Morocco in mid-December and returned on January 1.
McNamara called Parker’s misdeeds “a very low-down thing, it’s the worst of the worst when you prostitute your own relative, that’s as low as you get.” He found it “sickening to think a woman would stoop that low.”
It remained unclear how the girl was related to Parker, and, reportedly, officials said they did not release this information to protect the juvenile’s privacy.
In an open letter to Mexia ISD parents, Superintendent Lyle DeBus wrote that the school district placed Parker on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon when they learned of the teacher’s arrest “on felony charges.”
“Student safety is Mexia ISD’s No. 1 priority,” stated DuBus. “Any adult in our organization that endangers a child will not continue employment.”
DeBus emphasized that, as this is a personnel matter, further school district responses will be limited, “but needless to say the district does not tolerate these behaviors.”
Reportedly, DeBus did not believe any Mexia Junior High students were ever involved, although the school district will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with law enforcement partners.
In her online teacher profile, Parker described herself as a ‘bit of a geek when it comes to literature, science fiction, and technology.” She said her daughter attended Mexia High School.
Available online jail records showed Parker was held in the Freestone County Jail. Her bond was set at $25,000.