Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For Minors Sexually Abused by Teachers, “The Wounds Are to the Core”

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Rachel was a 15-year-old track star in a California high school when she says her coach first professed his love for her. “He said that if it was a different time and era, it would be ok,” she says.

Rachel (not her real name; she wished to remain anonymous due to her work career) remembers spending “unhealthy” amounts of time with the coach, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the school week. They had sex after practice in a shed behind the track field and on road trips to out-of-town meets. Other times, Rachel says the coach paid her to clean his parents’ house so that they could sneak off and have sex there, too.

“I had no perspective of what sex and a relationship was. I was learning these things from him,” Rachel tells the Current in a phone interview. “Is this love? A relationship? I didn’t know. I didn’t know I was being manipulated and used for his sexual gratification.”

When Rachel went away for college and came back home for a visit, it started to hit her: this isn’t right. She told her mom, who told a school counselor, who told the police, who recorded an incriminating phone call between Rachel and the coach, explains Rachel.

“They didn’t want me to put me on the [witness] stand. They said it would hurt me more so he plea bargained to a lesser crime that wasn’t a sex offense,” says Rachel, who adds that the man wasn’t required to register as a sex offender.

Despite the nightmare, Rachel considers herself one of the lucky ones. “I’m still able to function and be productive,” she says.

Others aren’t, according to Terri Miller, president of the Nevada-based Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.).

Educators who sexually abuse minors “are changing a life irrevocably forever,” says Miller. “Something that many of the survivors and parents that have contacted our organization have all admitted that they have either attempted suicide or we’re hearing from parents that their child did commit suicide over this issue.”

Often lost in the numbers – the Texas Education Agency opened a record-high 222 investigations into improper teacher-student relationships in fiscal year 2016 – is the emotional destruction caused by adult-aged educators and coaches.

The road ahead is likely going to be brutal for Jane Doe, who attended San Antonio Memorial High School. From around August 2012 to approximately the beginning of 2014, Memorial High chemistry teacher Marcus Revilla and Edgewood Independent School District police officer Manuel Hernandez sexual assaulted Jane Doe (obviously not her real name), according to a federal-court filing. In or around December 2013 or January 2014, Jane Doe became pregnant with Revilla’s child.

However, the issues didn’t come to light until April 2014 when the San Antonio Police Department, which had recovered Revilla’s car that he reported as stolen, found Jane Doe’s school identification and school-issued tablet in his car, states court documents.

“The harm is done to the core of the child and the family. The child has been seduced and lured in by these predators. Often times, they believe they’re in love and it causes a terrible rift between families when the parents discover what has gone on,” says Miller. “The parents cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation while the child is in turmoil over trying to protect the perpetrator who they think they love and they battle against the family.”

“It’s very common for me to hear from parents… that their child has a restraining order against them from contacting them. It’s a terrible wedge that’s shoved between the victim and their family and friends,” says Miller. “Part of how the perpetrator maintains control is to isolate them and make them believe that they’re the only person in the world who cares about them and is looking after their best interest. All the while, they have devious ideas.”

It’s not impossible for a Texas teacher who has been accused of sexual wrongdoings with a student to procure another teaching job in Texas. According to an Austin-American Statesman investigation, it happens more often than you might think — between 2010 and 2016, at least six teachers found educator jobs in other school districts despite sexual-abuse allegations.

Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 218, which is currently under consideration in the current session of the Texas Legislature, would require additional teacher training in regards to appropriate boundaries with students. The legislation would also criminalize the failure of school administrators and counselors to report suspected teacher misconduct, a spectacle that happens in school districts all over the country, says Miller.

In Rachel’s case, she says that depositions collected by her lawyer revealed that the coach had sexual relations with three other underage students prior to Rachel.

“They were reported to the school and they didn’t do anything. It was a good ol’ boy network," says Rachel. “I went through all of the pain and confession. I wish they would’ve investigated more.” Rachel says the man continues to coach in California.

Until SAPD recovered Revilla’s stolen vehicle and found Jane Doe’s ID and tablet in the car, not a single teacher or administrator at Memorial High and Edgewood ISD, according to court documents, reported Revilla’s conduct to law enforcement, TEA or Texas Department of Child Protection Services, which is in violation of CPS statutes.

Upon information and belief, Principal of Memorial High School, Michael Rodriguez (“Principal Rodriguez”) was notified in writing by a Memorial High School teacher that he/she witnessed Defendant Revilla and minor Plaintiff alone together on a “date” outside school grounds. No action was taken by Principle [sic] Rodriguez or any school official to investigate or report the allegation as required under state law.

In or around April 2014, then Principal Rodriguez summoned minor Plaintiff to his office to discuss Revilla’s conduct. During that meeting, Principal Rodriguez stated to minor Plaintiff that he had been aware of the rumors regarding Revilla’s sexual assault, and/or sexual abuse, and/or groping, and/or touching, and/or sodomy, and/or oral sex, and/or sexual intercourse, and/or sexual molestation, and/or pornographic photographing and/or recording of sex acts of or upon Minor Plaintiff since the beginning of the school year, but that he had chosen to ignore them up to that point in time.

Upon information and belief, the ex-fiancé of Defendant Revilla notified Principal Rodriguez through electronic mail that Defendant Revilla was acting inappropriately and having sexual relations with minor Plaintiff and suggested an investigation or reprimand for his unprofessional actions.

Upon information and belief, Revilla’s conduct was never reported to law enforcement authorities by any Edgewood employee or official. 
Court documents state that after SAPD found Revilla’s stolen vehicle, Rodriguez told Edgewood ISD superintendent Jose Cervantes about Revilla’s conduct. That information was disseminated to Edgewood’s board of trustees.

They did nothing.

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