New Caney ISD substitute teacher arrested on child porn charges

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Taisha Walker - Reporter

HOUSTON - A substitute teacher who worked for the New Caney Independent School District was arrested Thursday in connection with a child pornography investigation, authorities said.

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said an investigation was opened into child pornography that was being trafficked online. Investigators tracked down an address on Lake Creek Drive in Kingwood where the files were being downloaded, Herman said.

Herman said a search of the home found a laptop that contained a cache of child pornography, Herman said. Prosecutors said the images were of young girls between the ages of 11 and 13, nude from the waist down.

Kenneth Morphis, 62, who lived at the home, was arrested and later admitted to investigators that he had been seeking and obtaining child porn. Morphis was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography. He was absent from his first court appearance due to high blood pressure. The former teacher was being held in jail on $30,000 bond.

Officials at New Caney ISD said in a written statement that Morphis had been fired Thursday.

The entire statement follows:

"Substitute teacher Kenneth Morphis was immediately terminated Thursday, Sept. 27, after New Caney ISD was notified by the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office of his arrest in Harris County. Student safety is a top priority for New Caney ISD, and the district will take appropriate actions to ensure the continued safety of students and staff.  

"Morphis was a general substitute teacher at secondary campuses. He had been in the district's substitution pool since fall 2015."

Arraina Grupe recalls being in Morphis’ class in 2017, when he substituted for her agriculture teacher at New Caney High School.

“Whenever he walked into the room, he really wasn’t welcoming. We didn’t really want to be near him. I don’t want to necessarily say creepy but that's essentially the word that I would use,” said the 2017 graduate.

Morphis taught Grupe’s younger sister this year at White Oak Middle School. Grupe’s mother said she’s stunned by the allegations.

“My eighth-grader is upset about it. She had had him for a substitute for several times and was just upset that somebody she trusted and (a) teacher, somebody in authority like that, would do something like that,” Cassie Gilbert said.

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