Two more former Texas teachers wound up in courtrooms over charges of improper sexual misconduct with students, marring the final days of March. Earlier this week, Breitbart Texas reported on the month’s previous incidents of sexual misconduct between educators and students.
In East Texas, a Shelby County grand jury indicted Shelbyville ISD former teacher Johanna Grace Vickers on 17 out of 18 felony counts of an improper sexual relationship with a student on Thursday, March 31.
For the purpose of the trial, the 18 charges were consolidated into six felony charges. Although Vickers, 37, of San Augustine, previously pleaded guilty to three felony counts of an improper relationship between an educator and a student, the jury had to determine whether she was guilty or innocent on these other sexual assault and child indecency charges. The alleged victim was a 16-years-old male student at the time of the sexual encounters.
Last May, the school district said it became aware of the situation via phone calls. The teenage victim testified that the relationship became public after his girlfriend found out about it. Shelbyville ISD brought in campus police officer Judd Matthews to investigate. He testified in court Thursday that Vickers became employed by the district in 2012 until 2015. The officer said he knew the accused teacher and her husband, a Shelbyville ISD coach. Matthews told the jury he asked the alleged victim for his cell phone. Knowing Vickers’ phone number, the officer typed it in and it came up on the boy’s phone as “sister.” Matthews also stated he brought the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) into the case, according to numerous reports.
The county’s child abuse investigator, Chad Brown, testified to over 300 phone communications that occurred between Vickers and the student. Others, social media messages, were deleted. The alleged sexual relations included fondling, intercourse, and oral sex, some which took place in her car at a local park, happened between late March and early April 2015. The victim described the relationship under oath “as a friendship that got carried too far.” KTRE 9 (ABC) reported the boy said the Vickers did not did not use her authority to coerce him into a sexual relationship nor did he feel manipulated by her. He even took responsibility for sexual penetration and called her a good teacher who offered encouragement. The victim said: “She would help me with looking at colleges as well as classwork.”
At the time of the alleged improper relationship, Vickers was a 36-year-old married woman with three children, according to KLTV 7. The teen said that he and friends occasionally went over to Vickers’ house to hang out and, during some of those visits, her husband was at home, KTRE 9 reported.
While the defense attorney said Vickers was remorseful, he argued against convicting on the counts of sexual assault since the victim said he was never forced or coerced into engaging in the sexual encounters. The prosecution appealed to jurors that just because a student had feelings for a teacher, it did not excuse her from how she behaved or the fact that what she did was against the law. Vickers and her family wept upon hearing the jury’s decision to indict on 17 of the 18 charges, according to KTRE 9. The sentencing phase began Friday, April 1. A remorseful Vickers took the stand, tearfully addressing her students, fellow teachers, former principal, and the school district. “I was the adult. I violated that trust,” Vickers said. “It’s not something I can take back.” She also apologized to the victim’s mother.
In North Texas, former Plano Independent School District teacher, Aaron Russel Reza, was indicted Tuesday on nine counts of sexual misconduct between an educator and a minor, each a second-degree felony. Originally, Collin County officials charged him with two counts of sexual assault and indecency with a minor.
In January, Breitbart Texas reported police arrested Reza, 30, after a female student accused him of sexually assaulting her three times when she was 16-years-old. Two of those incidents occurred in Reza’s Wylie home while the third purportedly happened in his Lexus when he drove the girl to a high school football game at a competing Dallas area school district. The probable-cause affidavit stated the teenager told investigators that Reza gave the girl two credit cards to use plus $500 in cash to house sit, another $500 for her birthday and Christmas presents, and gifts such as clothes and jewelry. She also tried to sever the relationship but the suspect continued to communicate with her via text messaging, and during the school’s winter break last December the girl told her parents about the situation, according to the court documents.
When school restarted, district officials learned of the alleged sexual misconduct and McMillen High School Principal Brian Lyons advised parents in a letter that they had placed Reza on administrative leave while an investigation performed by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office ensued. On Jan. 5, authorities arrested Reza, booking him in the Collin County Jail on the original two counts of sexual misconduct. Each felony count carried a $10,000 bond, where he was later released on $20,000 bail.
The high school’s athletic department listed Reza as a football and baseball coach. Reza taught both physical education and health at McMillen. The Dallas Morning News reported Reza was hired by Plano ISD in August 2012, after previously working at the Uplift Education charter school in Irving.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.