The troubling trend of sexual misconduct with underage students or similar improper activities with minors continues to plague Texas educators in a month filled with allegations, accusations, charges, and plea deals from around the state. This has caused further eroding of the trust parents place in public schools to protect their children.
On Monday, March 28, grand jury selection began at a North Texas federal court in Sherman, Texas, for the trial of Oscar Figueroa, 47. Figueroa was a Hurst-Euless-Bedford (H-E-B) Independent School District former principal at Viridian Elementary School. He is charged with one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
Breitbart Texas reported on this case as part of a “round-up” of alleged Texas educator-student sexual misconduct incidents over summer 2015. To recap, Figueroa was under investigation based on a Craigslist online ad he placed seeking male-to-male oral sex at a movie theatre with “young partners.” An undercover Frisco police officer answered the ad, posing as a 16-year-old male. The two began to text, ultimately arranging to meet at the Frisco Stonebriar Centre Mall AMC movie theatre. Figueroa described his clothes in a text to the undercover officer to identify him. Instead of hooking up, police arrested Figueroa as he and the undercover officer walked to a unisex bathroom last July.
Subsequently, Figueroa resigned from his post at the elementary school. He pleaded not guilty to the charge against him and was jailed without bail while awaiting trial. The Dallas Morning News reported trial exhibit list items include text messages between Figueroa and the undercover officer, movie theatre surveillance video, the suspect’s police interview, and nude photos found on his cell phone. Prosecutor filings noted Figueroa posted similar inappropriate Craigslist ads for seven month, including “over 50 requests for seven young male responders to send photographs of themselves, often nude.”
Figueroa worked in the school district, located south of Dallas, since 2007. If convicted, he faces between 10 years and life in prison.
Also in the Dallas area, former teacher’s aide, Kearney Day, 22, pleaded guilty on Friday, March 25, to the second degree felony charge of having an inappropriate relationship with a female student that turned sexual. The impropriety took place in early 2014 at Allen High School in Allen ISD. Collin County prosecutors dismissed eight other charges, including sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child sexual contact as part of plea agreement in which Day received deferred adjudication probation for four years and a $500 fine. She must also complete 120 hours of community service and have no unsupervised contact with children, according to the Dallas newspaper.
At the time of the purported misconduct, Day was 20-years-old and the female student was 16. According to the probable cause affidavit, the minor told the school’s principal the relationship began in January 2014 and that Day used the phone app Kik to communicate with her in messages, some of which were allegedly sexually suggestive.
Over in West Texas on Wednesday, March 23, Monahans police took high school Spanish teacher Imelda Dominguez into custody after responding to a suspicious vehicle call in which they found the 47-year-old in a car with an underage student. According to CBS-TV affiliate KOSA 7, the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD teacher surrendered herself to the Ward County Sheriff’s Office Thursday and since bonded out of jail on $20,000 bond. The school district placed her on administrative leave during the investigation. She now faces the felony charge of improper relationship with a student.
Earlier in March, Lake Dallas ISD former high school softball coach Dugan Walker pleaded guilty to an improper relationship between and educator and a student, receiving eight years of deferred adjudication as part of a plea deal that included surrendering his teaching license, performing 120 hours of community service at four hours per week, drug and alcohol testing, psychological counseling at his expense, polygraph testing, and he cannot have any direct or indirect contact with the unidentified female victim or her immediate family, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.
Dugan, 59-years-old when accused of having the relationship with the underage high school girl, is also forbidden from owning a firearm or possessing pornographic material and is barred from using social media. According to phone records obtained by police, the teacher and the girl exchanged 1,691 text messages between August 2013 and September 2014. In November 2013, the two allegedly had sexual intercourse.
In February, Breitbart Texas reported on a half-dozen purported teacher-student sexual misconduct cases; however, two additional incidents came out of Southside ISD in San Antonio. First, on Feb. 17, Michael Javier Ottogalli, 36, a Pearce Primary School teacher, was indicted as part of a Homeland Security Investigations sting in which officials allegedly found child porn in his home and on his work computer, the San Antonio Express-News reported. They charged Ottogalli with six counts, including the distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography.
Second, former Julius Matthey Middle School English teacher Raymond Casillas admitted to molesting a 13-year-old female student in his classroom and was sentenced to eight years in prison with a $1,500 fine, KENS 5 (CBS) reported. A rattled parent spoke to the San Antonio CBS-TV affiliate, pointing out that children are the most “precious thing we have,” emphasizing that once a teacher crosses the line “our trust is broken.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.