Sexual Allegations Threaten a High School Teacher’s Reputation & Career
On January 28, 2015, Juan Antonio Chapa, a Hanna Early College High School teacher, was placed on administrative leave after being the accused of having an improper relationship with a former student. Chapa, a math teacher, has worked for the Brownsville Independent School District since 1991.
After a former student’s mother informed the school district of the alleged inappropriate relationship, the police were called. Chapa was arrested on February 20, 2015. Initially, the school district placed Chapa on paid administrative leave, however, his paid status was revoked after his arrest. Currently, Chapa has been released from custody after he posted a $20,000 bail bond.
Texas Penal Code, Title 3, §12.33 makes it a criminal offense for an educator or school employee to engage in sexual relations with a student who is currently enrolled in the school district in which the educator or employee is employed. The charge, improper relationship between educator and student, is a second-degree felony. If convicted, the crime carries a penalty from 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. However it is a crime that is probation eligible. To be convicted of this charge, the state must prove that an educator or employee of a public or private school engaged in a sex act:
- With an enrolled student where the educator or employee is employed;
- With a student enrolled in a the school district in which the educator or employee is employed; or
- With a student enrolled in an educational activity sponsored by the school district or the school and taught by the educator.
An affirmative defense may either defeat the criminal consequences of the offense, if proven. In Texas, an educator or school employee charged with having an improper relationship with a student may assert the following affirmative defenses:
- Legal marriage between the educator/employee and the student; or
- The educator/employee is not more than three years older than the student and the relationship began prior to the educator being employed by the school district.
These allegations are very serious and are likely to result in harm to an accused’s reputation, livelihood, as well as stiff criminal penalties. As such, if you or a loved one is facing allegations of improper relationship between an educator and student, or any other sexual offense, it is imperative that you employ a defense attorney with the wisdom and experience to fight for your legal rights and clear your name if wrongfully accused. The lawyers at our office has handled numerous similar matters. The legal professionals at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates are prepared to hear the specifics of your case, and beginning mounting a defense tailored to your situation. Contact us today for a consultation.