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Number of sexual misconduct cases among Texas teachers skyrocket

July 6, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Number of sexual misconduct cases among Texas teachers skyrocket

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The number of Texas teachers who have been accused of sexual misconduct with students continues to skyrocket even while school is out of session for the summer. More allegations came to fruition in June of educators engaging in inappropriate behavior that infringes on the trust placed in them to protect their students.

On June 30th, District Attorney’s Office in Harris County pursued criminal charges against a former Houston Independent School District teacher, 38-year old Steven Amedeo. He has been indicted for having a sexual relationship with an underage male student and faces felony charges. Last week, Amedeo turned himself into police but was let go after posting $30,000 bail.

The Houston Independent School District began investigating the high school culinary arts teacher back in April after the victim’s girlfriend found disturbing cell phone text messages between her boyfriend and the teacher. She informed the school principal about the texts.

The boy admitted to law enforcement that he and Amedeo traded numbers in the fall of 2015 and soon started texting and running errands together. Amedeo then purportedly invited the boy back to his apartment where they had sex. Houston ISD announced in a statement that Amedeo was longer employed at the institution and noted that “the safety of students” continues to be their “top priority.”

In North Texas, fourth grade Dallas Independent School District teacher Mark Stutheit, 59, appeared in federal court on June 29th and was charged with receipt of child pornography. Jeffrey L. Cureton, U.S. Magistrate, directed Stutheit remain in police custody until a grand jury hears his case within the next 30 days. Although the man had no prior criminal history, he could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted, along with a lifetime of supervised released and a $250,000 fine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office began investigating the teacher in May over reported online child porn activities that were discovered when he exchanged emails with an undercover officer with the Queensland Police Service in Australia. Special agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were given a search warrant for Stutheit’s residence. On June 23rd, authorities discovered evidence on his computer and cell phones which contained a myriad of child porn.

Stutheit informed law enforcement that he received and saved emails with child pornography, but they came from other people online, KDFW 4 reported. One of the files contained a graphic depiction of a very young girl. Stutheit also often visited a site known to authorities as a place to trade child pornographic pictures.

According to Breitbart News, the suspect used the alias “Old Man YG” as his screen name. Stutheit’s lawyer Samuel Terry said Stutheit was not accused of making child porn, and no children he came in contact were ever targeted.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Dallas Independent School District said: “The safety of our students is vital, and we will support law enforcement and take the appropriate steps to keep our students safe.”

In early June, a grand jury in Burleson County charged former high school teacher’s aide, 32-year-old Deanna Lara, on seven counts of having an improper relationship between educator and student and three counts of sexual assault with a child. Deanna Lara was apprehended and taken to the Brazos County Jail. Lara was let go after she posted $110,000 bail. She purportedly had four sexual rendezvous with children under the age of 17 from late October to early November 2015.

In Hutto, another high school teacher, 26-year-old Jake Fenske, confessed to police that he had sex multiple times with one of his 16-year-old female students. They even reportedly engaged in sexual relations inside of his classroom. The science teacher/football coach was charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student, a third-degree felony.

If Fenske is found guilty, he faces up to 10 years behind bars. Police began investigating the sexual misconduct after the victim’s father found inappropriate Snapchat messages from Fenske on his daughter’s phone. The State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) plans to seek revocation of Fenske’s teaching credentials.

Another high school teacher from the Austin area, Matthew Burton, 43, was taken into custody on June 17th after he sent threatening texts to a 16-year-old female student that he lured into a sexual relationship with claims that he was dying, $3,700 cash, and an engagement ring. Burton faces a second-degree felony of one count of sexual assault of a child.

Additionally, 24-year-old Alexandria Vera came to the national spotlight after she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student, and became pregnant, although she later had an abortion. The former teacher has been charged with one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Officials said 162 sexual misconduct cases were opened by the Texas Education Agency between September 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. The disturbing numbers are approximately just 26 less than last year’s 188 cases. The 2014-2015 academic year marked the 7th year in a row where alleged teacher-student sexual offense incidents increased. The TEA will reveal its 2015-2016 statistics later in the summer.

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