A Texas school superintendent was arrested by Harris County Precinct 1 law enforcement authorities along with 6 other men early this month as part of a sting operation aimed at the sex crime of online solicitation of a minor.
According to KTRK abc13.com, the educator, 47, from the Itasca Independent School District, south of Fort Worth, was charged with online solicitation of a minor. His bond was set at $100,000. He remains in Harris County Jail.
If he posts bond, the man must submit to random drug testing, cannot have any contact with anyone under 17 years old and must install software on his computer that monitors his activity.
KHOU News reported that the Itasca ISD school board met Tuesday, June 13, to consider firing the man, whom they suspended without pay earlier in the month. However, though the board has named an interim superintendent, they have not taken action yet about dismissing the accused man.
Hired by Itasca ISD just over 1 year ago, the man previously had worked for other school districts around the state in various capacities, including coach, teacher and principal.
Undercover officer poses as underage girl online
The man is accused of communicating online with an undercover officer, whom he believed was a 15-year-old girl in Houston. He was arrested by Harris County officers on June 1 on the campus of Itasca High School and then brought to Houston.
KTRK reported that investigators said he’d used an app to communicate with their undercover officer. This contact reportedly started in April and continued through late May.
The man’s communication with the undercover officer allegedly included his sending explicit photos and requesting nude images and videos in return.
The contact also allegedly included him asking inappropriate questions, describing explicit scenarios and claiming that he’d consider divorcing his wife so he could marry the 15-year-old girl’s mother in order to have access to the girl.
In addition, the man allegedly told the undercover officer that he wanted to travel to Houston during the summer and get a hotel room so they could meet and engage in sexual acts.
Personnel with the Harris County Constable Precinct 1 Office, who arrested the man and 6 others for online solicitation of a minor in the sting operation, said some communication between the superintendent and the undercover persona occurred during regular school and business hours.
The constable’s office said the man was aware that the person he believed to be a girl was only 15 years old. Establishing such a belief can be a key factor in such cases.
Authorities said the man also joined another app during their investigation and began a discourse with another undercover officer, whom he believed was a 16-year-old girl.
Six others arrested in online sting
Six other men were also arrested in the Harris County online solicitation sting operation. They are also charged with online solicitation of a minor, but those men are all out on bond.
Persons accused of this crime are often arrested when the undercover officer sets up a meeting between them and the person they believe is an underage girl, and when the suspects arrive, officers are waiting to arrest them.
Get an experienced Houston-area sex crime defense lawyer
Not everyone who is swept up in an online solicitation sting operation is guilty of soliciting a minor. Anyone who faces such a claim or a charge in the Houston area must get an experienced sex crime defense lawyer to fight for their legal rights.
Looking for the best defense attorney or lawyer in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land or elsewhere in the area? The award-winning Neal Davis Law Firm has skill and experience in handling such internet sex crime cases, which can lead to severe punishments.
Law enforcement officers are using apps, the internet and social media more and more to lure potential sex offenders, who could spend years in jail and pay high fines without having ever made any illegal physical contact with an underage person.
Even “sexting” (electronically transmitting sexual images) is a crime in Texas when a child under 18 years old is involved. An adult who is more than 2 years older than the recipient or the sender of such images can be charged with illegal sexting, which is a felony.
A sexting charge could also lead to related charges of distributing or possessing child pornography, distributing sexual images to a minor and promoting sexual performance by a minor.
Sex crime penalties are worse when children were involved
Sex crime cases involving children can bring more severe penalties and punishments than sex crimes involving only adults. Along with online solicitation of a minor (a person under age 18), sex crimes involving children commonly include the following:
- Indecency with a child
- Sexual assault of a child
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child
- Possession of child pornography
Punishments can include many years in prison, even for first-time offenders.
The general public tends to view such crimes very harshly, and in order to protect children, many people support laws that are especially tough on such crimes. Prosecutors have responded to the public’s outrage by emphasizing their work against alleged offenders, even in cases that they know they might lose. They do not want to appear “soft on crime.”
Even so, a knowledgeable and experienced sex crime defense lawyer can fight to show that an accused person is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the burden of proof for prosecutors in cases that could lead to jail time.
If you or someone in your family faces a claim, accusation or charge of online solicitation of a minor or some other sex crime involving children, notify the Neal Davis Law Firm today to arrange confidential consultation for your case. Your future and your freedom may depend on it.