Improper Teacher-Student Relationships in Texas
Recently, several major news stories have highlighted the reality of inappropriate relationships between students and educators. These incidents are an example of an illegal relationship between an adult and a minor. These cases are unique because of the relationship between the educator and the student under their care.
While sexual relationships between adults and children are illegal in Texas, inappropriate interactions between educators and their students are considered especially egregious. A conviction for one of these offenses can come with enhanced penalties, including jail time. Learning more about these situations can help people to better understand the legal ramifications of inappropriate relationships.
The Frankston ISD Case
In October of 2015, a former teacher from Frankston High School in Frankston, Texas plead guilty to multiple felony offenses after she was arrested and charged for having improper sexual relationships with several students. The former teacher, Rachel Bauer, made a plea deal with the court. She plead guilty to:
- One count of felony Improper Relationship Between an Educator and Student
- One count of felony Sexual Assault of a Child
The charges were filed as the result of an investigation in 2014. Frankston police began an investigation after they were informed of possible improper behavior between Bauer, a former agriculture teacher, and several students. They eventually discovered Bauer had been exchanging sexually explicit photos and messages with several students. They also found out that Bauer had been having sexual and oral intercourse with three students, aged 14, 16 and 17, in her home. She also provided alcohol to the students and sent them explicit photographs of her in a Frankston ISD t-shirt.
After entering a guilty plea, Bauer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the Improper Relationship charge and 10 years of deferred adjudication probation for the Sexual Assault charge. The probation will become active upon her release from prison. She was also required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of her life.
In this case, the judge remarked that the gender of the defendant and the victims was not relevant and that the case would have been exactly the same for a male teacher and a female student.
The Abilene ISD Case
In September of 2015, a 30-year-old former teacher named Michael Trook plead guilty to one count of an improper relationship between a teacher and a student. He had previously admitted to the relationship with a 17-year-old student and resigned from his position at Holland Medical High in Abilene. He admitted to having an inappropriate encounter with the student in his office at the school in December of 2014.
As part of the plea deal, the court agreed to drop a second degree felony charge against Trook in exchange for his guilty plea. As part of his sentencing for the charge of an improper relationship Trook will face:
- 15 days in jail
- Deferred adjudication probation for 10 years
- A $2500 fine
Trook will also have to permanently forfeit his license to teach in the state of Texas. The plea deal allowed Trook to avoid a possible two to 20 year prison sentence for a second degree felony conviction. Because the student was 17 at the time of the offense, Trook will not have to register as a sex offender.
Section 21.12 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a felony offense for an educator to engage in any type of sexual activity with a student at their school or facility. As demonstrated by these two cases, a conviction for this offense can lead to public shame, jail time, steep fines and a permanent loss of a career.
Anyone who has been charged with this offense can meet with a defense attorney to discuss possible legal defense strategies.
If yourself or a loved one has been accused of improper educator-student relations, you owe it to them to contact an attorney as soon as possible. It is vital to get legal defense early in these circumstances. Attorney Brett A. Podolsky has the experience need to help. Contact the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky today at (713) 227-0087.