Federal agents arrested a Texas charter school physics teacher alleging he corresponded with an underage boy in Illinois over social media. The teacher then flew to Chicago to have sex with the teen, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced Friday.
Authorities filed a criminal complaint which purported 30-year-old Drew Dillon Watson communicated inappropriately with the 15-year-old boy by text message, Skype, and over the social media aps Kik and Snapchat. The FBI actually took Watson into custody Thursday then charged him with coercion and enticement plus transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
If convicted, Watson faces a potential life sentence. The first two counts each carry a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. The third carries a 30-year-maximum term.
KTRK reported Watson taught 10th grade physics at YES Prep Public Schools East End campus since July. YES Prep is an open-enrollment public charter school serving grades 6-12 in Houston’s most under-served communities. A school official said Watson passed a background check and had no prior offenses. Previously, Watson worked at Travis High School in the Fort Bend school district from 2009 through 2011.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Texas, the criminal complaint alleged Watson, while in Houston, began communicating with the underage boy, in Chicago, in mid-April. Watson purportedly “engaged in extremely explicit sexual conversations” and shared full body nude pictures of himself. The online chats allegedly occurred daily and the 30-year-old did not hide his age.
This inappropriate online courting led to Watson traveling across the country to meet with the boy. The teenager believed Watson’s intentions to be sexual in nature. On May 13, Watson flew from Houston to Chicago with plans of having having an improper sexual relationship with the boy, according to the complaint.
Apparently, the purported victim’s mother dropped off the teen at a friend’s home, under the impression he would spend the weekend, but as she was about to leave, her instincts told her something was wrong and she drove back to the house. There, she saw her son entering a vehicle driven by an approximately 30-year-old male, the U.S. Attorney’s Office cited per the complaint. The woman confronted Watson, upon which her son exited the vehicle, thwarting the sexual incident. She then alerted authorities.
YES Prep issued a statement Friday in which they called Watson’s action’s “deplorable and illegal.” They also stated Watson’s employment was terminated. The statement read, in part:
“The safety of our students and staff is a top priority at YES Prep Public Schools. As such every employee at YES Prep must pass the state required background check before beginning their employment. It is unfortunate to learn some information about Mr. Watson’s recent deplorable and illegal actions. In the best interest of the campus and the entire YES Prep community, his employment with YES Prep has been terminated effective immediately. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities to support the investigation.”
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) releases their annual figures of reported teacher sexual misconduct cases after the end of their fiscal year, which was August 31. Recently, some news outlets reported the 2015-2016 school year ongoing tally on these cases as high as 207, unofficially. In the 2014-2015 academic year, the TEA reported 188 known cases, which marked the seventh consecutive year these type of educator improper conduct cases increased.
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