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Male Student Sexual Assault/Grooming Highlighted in Texas Teacher's Case

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Texas Teacher’s Sexual Assault Case Highlights Educator Sexual Misconduct Against Male Students

Texas Teacher’s Sexual Assault Case Highlights Educator Sexual Misconduct Against Male Students

Jun 30, 2021

A former Sheldon, Texas, Independent School District teacher has been accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Katrina Maxwell, 32, a former teacher at Houston-area C.E. King High School, was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child earlier this month.

Investigators said the student reported knowing Maxwell since October 2020, and that the sexual relationship allegedly began over spring break in March 2021.

Houston’s ABC 13 reported that Maxwell was brought in for a June 8th administrative meeting, at which time she admitted to having sex with the underage student twice in the back seat of her car.

Court documents indicate a witness who was in the room during the meeting said Maxwell claimed she loved the 16-year-old boy.

Additionally, Maxwell reportedly told administrators she believed she “was a good teacher” and that as a result of the charges would now be known as “the teacher that f***** her student.”

Court documents indicate the boy was subsequently interviewed by authorities. In the interview, the teen confirmed having a sexual relationship with Maxwell over spring break. Additionally, the student stated Maxwell picked him up from his aunt’s house on one occasion, and the two went to a nearby hotel where they had sexual intercourse for the first time.

The court report also indicates that the school district became aware of the relationship between Maxwell and the student when an employee noticed Maxwell’s peculiar behavior upon seeing the 16-year-old together with his girlfriend. The district employee also reported an incident where Maxwell allegedly threw a pair of scissors at the student’s head in reaction to him sitting next to his girlfriend, according to court records.

Sheldon Independent School District reportedly conducted its own investigation and immediately fired Maxwell.

Sheldon ISD released the following statement:

Once district administration was notified of an inappropriate relationship between former Sheldon ISD teacher Mrs. Katrina Maxwell and a Sheldon ISD high school student, the teacher was immediately removed from the school campus, and the district notified law enforcement as well as Child Protective Services (CPS). The district has conducted a thorough investigation and upon completion, we found these reports to be substantiated. All findings have been turned over to law enforcement, and the district expected charges to be brought forth. Sheldon ISD strongly encouraged the Harris County District Attorney’s office to take the appropriate action by accepting the charges and making an arrest. Based on our investigative process, this teacher has been terminated and is no longer employed in Sheldon ISD.

The district’s first concern is always the safety of our students while providing a safe and secure place for students to learn. Sheldon ISD is deeply saddened that this occurred, and we are committed to continued cooperation with law enforcement to ensure Mrs. Maxwell is prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

Teacher-Student Sexual Assault

The Psychiatric Times reports that “educator sexual misconduct” is a term used to describe “behavior by an educator that is directed at a student and intended to sexually arouse or titillate the educator or the child.” The word “educator” includes classroom teachers as well as coaches, counselors, administrators, tutors, and aides. Victims may include all students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Educator sexual misconduct entails any physical, verbal, or visual (such as showing pornography) sexual behavior between an educator and a student.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) estimates that 10% of K-12 students will experience sexual misconduct from a school employee by the time they graduate high school. A literature review of educator sexual misconduct published by the U.S. Department of Education showed that the majority of sex offenders were primarily teachers or coaches in positions allowing them to spend substantial amounts of time with individual students.

The literature review was analyzed by education researcher, Charol Shakeshaft. Across seven studies, she found that while the majority of sex offenders were men, the gender actually “varied significantly” on a case-by-case basis, with up to 43% being women. That statistic, along with the Katrina Maxwell case, highlights the cultural misconception that sexual predators are always men (and sexual assault survivors are always women).

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In fact, although the majority of sexual assault crimes are committed by men, a significant percentage actually involve women offenders – particularly in an educational environment.

In 2018, Jacqueline Nicole Muller, a 26-year-old teacher here in Glendale, California, was arrested for having unprotected sex on multiple occasions with a 14-year-old student during a field trip to Washington D.C. Muller had reportedly been teaching at Glendale’s Salem Lutheran School for approximately one year, and was a chaperone on the field trip. She was charged with first-degree child sexual abuse.

Muller’s story is not atypical. As CBS News reported in 2018, there are numerous sexual abuse scandals involving female teachers.

  • In 2017, Lockhart, Texas, police charged Sarah Fowlkes, a 27-year-old high school teacher, after allegedly having an improper relationship with a 17-year-old student. Fowlkes turned herself in after a warrant was issued for her arrest in March of that year.
  • In 2018, police reports confirm Stephanie Peterson, a former middle school teacher, was arrested for allegedly having a secret sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy. The teen told investigators in Volusia County, Florida, that Peterson, 26, would ply him with marijuana. Peterson, who also reportedly maintained an alias of Stephanie Ferri, faced three criminal counts.
  • In 2012, Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader-turned-teacher, Sarah Jones, pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. Jones taught at Dixie Heights High School in northern Kentucky. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, she was able to avoid any jail time.
  • In 2004, Debra Lafave, a reading teacher at Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, Florida, was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a person under 16. Lafave’s charges stemmed from allegations of having sex with a 14-year-old boy. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation. After giving birth to twin boys in 2011, a judge ultimately granted Lafave early release from her sex offender probation (although she was still required to register as a sex offender).
  • In June 2016, a Texas middle school English teacher, Alexandria Vera, 24, turned herself in to authorities after a warrant was issued on a child sex abuse charge. According to court documents, Vera is alleged to have had a nine-month sexual relationship with a 13-year-old male student, who authorities allege impregnated her.
  • In March 2018, an Illinois high school soccer coach was accused of sexually assaulting three students. Authorities said 28-year-old Cori Beard, a part-time assistant coach for both the boys and girls soccer teams, was allegedly involved in “unlawful sexual acts with three current Vernon Hills High School boys.” Beard was charged with 12 counts of criminal sexual assault.
  • After authorities uncovered evidence on a male student’s phone, an Oklahoma high school teacher was arrested in 2017 for allegedly having sex with the boy. The teacher, Hunter Day, age 22, faced charges including second-degree rape and possession of child pornography. Day, who is reportedly married to one of the school’s football coaches, was arrested in November of that year and booked on an $85,000 bond.
  • In 2016, Alaina Ferguson, 23, was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy. The teenage student allegedly told police that the illicit relationship began after leaving a note for his teacher on an algebra test indicating his Snapchat username.
  • In 2007, Carrie McCandless pleaded guilty to sexual contact with a 17-year-old student in Colorado. The former Brighton Collegiate High School teacher was reportedly chaperoning a school camping trip when the assault occurred.

Instances of sexual assault involving female teachers are actually much more common than the public may realize. In Canada, the Children’s Rights Council has established a website identifying 500 female teacher sex offenders and sex crime cases.

Female Teacher Sexual Misconduct in the Media

Female Teacher Sexual Misconduct in the Media
In 2020, the FX television network released a 10-episode miniseries entitled “A Teacher,” starring Kate Mara and Nick Robinson. The series’ storyline focuses on a complex predatory relationship at a fictional Texas high school between a teacher in her mid-30s and her 17-year-old student.

The series was hailed by many media outlets for drawing attention to the subject of female teacher on male student sexual assault. National Public Radio (NPR) called the show “a handbook on a predatory relationship” and noted that the story is “troubling as it blends warning and titillation” but “brilliant when subtly depicting grooming.”

The series was also extoled for accurately depicting the emotional and psychological trauma endured by the male student, and the effect the predatory relationship had on his life years afterward.

As the NPR story noted, “Although conversations about sexual abuse have been increasing since the #MeToo movement, many people still do not know what grooming is or how to spot it. Predators can use their power to manipulate victims into thinking the relationship is their idea. Consent is more complicated than a simple yes or no, because coercion can happen gradually.”

The Psychiatric Times defines grooming as “the process in which the offender lures the victim into the sexual abuse.” Given their level of interaction with students, educators are in a unique position to apply the tactic of grooming on unsuspecting students. Additionally, grooming can actually serve to make the student feel complicit in the behavior.

As DLG’s Sam Dordulian stated in a previous blog, it’s important for both parents and students to remember that “sexual predators are notorious for seeking out positions (as either a professional or volunteer) that provide unsupervised access to children.”

“Granted, 95% of coaches, teachers, clergy, volunteers at religious institutions, etc. are likely upstanding citizens. But parents need to be aware that there’s no standard model for a sexual predator. A predator can be of any age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.,” Dordulian said.

DLG’s chief investigator, retired LAPD sex crimes detective, Moses Castillo, cautions parents to always remain vigilant and alert for red flags.

“If an adult makes regular efforts to spend more time (typically alone) with your child than you do as their parent, that’s a red flag. Premeditated attempts to get a child alone – whether to go out for ice cream, take a trip to an amusement park, the movies, etc. – are situations that can be conducive to sexual abuse,” Castillo says.

Additionally, as a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian says parents can’t let a position of authority skew their perspective or allow them to let their guards down.

“One major problem I consistently encounter with parents is their tendency to automatically view these individuals as sort of noble citizens. They don’t appreciate the potential predator instinct any random coach, teacher, clergy member, or even close friend or relative could have. I often tell parents about a case I was involved in as a Deputy District Attorney, where a teacher openly admitted that he chose the profession in order to have unlimited access to children. So, it’s important for parents to be aware that any professional who has direct private access to their children could potentially be a predator. Without encouraging paranoia, you do, in a sense, almost have to be on constant alert, because it can impact any child of any age/gender at any time. It’s not by accident that these people became teachers or coaches or clergy, it’s by design,” Dordulian says.

Earlier this week, Dordulian held a press conference with local media outlets. During the conference, he identified a child sexual abuse suspect who is still coaching kids in Orange County. The survivor of the alleged childhood sexual abuse was present with Dordulian, and encouraged other survivors to come forward and secure the justice they deserve.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Sexually Assaulted/Abused by a Teacher or Coach?

Can I File a Lawsuit After Being Sexually Assaulted
In addition to any criminal charges that may be filed, a survivor of sexual assault in California may file his or her own civil lawsuit seeking to recover financial compensation from the perpetrator for the harm caused. Civil charges are entirely separate from criminal charges, and the outcome of one case does not impact the other (meaning that even if a sex offender was not convicted on criminal charges, the perpetrator could still be convicted in civil court).

Under California AB 218, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a limited window to file a civil claim, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred. AB 218’s three-year lookback window extends through the end of 2022, allowing survivors of childhood sexual assault an unprecedented opportunity to finally obtain the justice that is long overdue.

DLG’s Sam Dordulian has used the metaphor of a “time machine” to describe AB 218, as it affords attorneys like himself the opportunity to go back in time, “as far back as we need to” and prosecute childhood sex offenders.

However, once the three-year lookback window closes on January 1, 2023, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse will be left without any legal recourse. The current chance at justice is limited, and survivors are strongly encouraged to contact DLG’s Sex Crimes Division as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed timely and in accordance with the statute of limitations.

Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation or to ask any question you may have about AB 218 or filing a sexual assault claim. At DLG, we believe survivors, and we’re here to listen, to provide support, and to help you obtain the justice you deserve through a maximum financial damages award.

With a 98% success record and over $100,000,000 million recovered in settlements and verdicts for our clients, DLG is the absolute best choice available when searching for a qualified, experienced, and dedicated Los Angeles sexual assault lawyer.

DLG’s SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) of professionals – handpicked by Sam Dordulian – is available 24/7 to assist you. With a retired LAPD sex crimes detective investigating your case, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for L.A. County litigating your case, and a licensed clinical therapist and two victim advocates available to provide an all-encompassing support network throughout the legal process, you can have peace of mind knowing that your sexual assault claim is in good hands and your ultimate well-being is our first priority.

Contact DLG today to take the first step towards achieving the justice you deserve.

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