Parents of young girls involved in molestation claims against Pasadena ISD substitute teacher speak

By Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Producer, Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

PASADENA, Texas - Some of the parents of the girls who say they were molested by a substitute teacher at a Pasadena Independent School District elementary school have hired attorneys.

However, they said in a news conference that they are not ready to take legal action yet. They say they are hoping to get more investigation done on what reportedly happened to the young girls.

The substitute teacher in question was fired over allegations of inappropriately touching at least 15 young female students. Pasadena ISD says it is not releasing the former teacher's name because the matter is still under investigation.

The parents of two of the girls participated in a news conference Wednesday because, according to their attorney, the parents feel Pasadena ISD has not been open and honest about what led up to the incident.

Attorneys said their own investigation turned up yet more disturbing information about the man.

"Our initial investigation clearly indicates and gives us very strong reason to believe that this gentleman, a substitute at Jessup Elementary School, employed by Pasadena ISD, was in fact at one point at least a registered sex offender having been convicted of possession of child pornography," said attorney Darian Conston Sr.

One of the parents spoke tearfully about how her daughter has become a different person because of the reported incident.

“She is not sleeping much, she is crying at night, wakes up crying,” said a parent of one of the girls. “She is depressed. She doesn’t want to eat. She doesn’t want to do very much of anything. She used to be a happy kid … She doesn’t want to do anything anymore. It’s changed her so much.”

A spokesperson told KPRC2 News the allegation includes touching the girls' backs, shoulders and legs.

However, one parent said her 9-year-old daughter described much more graphic violations. We are not identifying the mother in an effort to protect the identity of the child.

"(On) Thursday, he would rub her in her private parts. (On) Friday, he put his hand inside her shirt, squeezed her boobs, touched her butt tried to put (his) hand inside (her) pants," the mother said.

The mother said her daughter told her the teacher made all of the students in the class line up against a wall. He then told the boys to "not look" and pulled the girls aside, one by one.

Pasadena ISD issued the following statement to Channel 2 News:

"It is important for students, parents, and our community to know that all PISD employees, including substitutes, are required to submit to criminal background checks prior to being hired by the district. This background check includes fingerprinting checks utilizing Texas DPS's and the FBI's databases. To the district’s knowledge, the individual involved in this case does not have a criminal history."

"The ISD should have been on notice about his prior history and he's someone who should not have been engaged with children at fourth-grade level," said attorney Brennen Dunn.

The school released the following statement regarding the incident:

"On October 5, 2018, Pasadena ISD received allegations that a substitute teacher at Jessup Elementary School had touched students in an inappropriate manner. Pasadena ISD takes all allegations of this nature very seriously. Accordingly, the Administration at Jessup Elementary took immediate action to remove the individual from their campus, notify District Administration, Harris County Protective Services (“CPS”) and the Pasadena ISD Police Department of the allegations, and began contacting parents of the reporting students.

"The accused individual is no longer employed by Pasadena ISD. To date, the District has taken all available courses of action to ensure the safety of its students. In addition to the reports made to CPS and the police, the District has also provided notice of the allegations involved in this case to the State Board for Educator Certification.

"It is important for students, parents, and our community to know that all PISD employees, including substitutes, are required to submit to criminal background checks prior to being hired by the District. This background check includes fingerprinting checks utilizing Texas DPS's and the FBI's databases. To the District’s knowledge, the individual involved in this case does not have a criminal history.

"The Pasadena ISD Police Department’s investigation is still active and ongoing. At this time, the Police Department will not release or confirm the identity of the accused in an effort to preserve the integrity of its investigation. The District continues to cooperate with CPS’s and the Pasadena ISD Police Department’s investigations. Presently, several students have been referred to Harris County for forensic interviews as part of the Pasadena ISD Police Department’s investigation. This is a common step in the investigative process when allegations involve minor victims. In investigations involving multiple, minor victims, similar to this case, it is important that all leads are followed, and all evidence is obtained and preserved so the case can be presented to the District Attorney’s office to determine if charges will be filed.  If the District Attorney’s office files charges in a case, the suspect would then be arrested and their identity made public.

"The District is confident in the PISD Police Department’s ability to perform a thorough investigation and we know that our police will work to ensure that any wrongdoing is prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law. We ask that you continue to remain patient while our police diligently work this case.

"Pasadena ISD appreciates your support of our students. Once again, the District and the Pasadena ISD Police Department ask that anyone with pertinent information regarding this case contact the Pasadena ISD Police Department at 713.740.0200. Thank you for your continued support of our students."

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