Teacher arrested over alleged relationship with girl

Terrie Rhodes is charged with indecency with a child/sexual contact and improper relationship between educator and student.

April 7, 2011 8:20:18 PM PDT
A middle school teacher in Fort Bend County left school in handcuffs on Thursday. Terrie Rhodes is accused of having a sexual relationship with a female student, but the charges may not end with just the one alleged victim. Investigators are looking for at least two other female students who they say might have been touched inappropriately by Rhodes when she was a teacher at Lake Olympia Middle School in Missouri City in 2009. And they fear there could be more victims.

Rhodes, 44, was arrested Thursday morning at Fort Settlement Middle School in Sugar Land, where she's been working as an English teacher since August. But she was arrested for incidents that allegedly occurred in 2009 at Lake Olympia Middle School.

"It was sexual contact with a female student and a female teacher -- inappropriate touching; things of that nature," said Chief Craig Brady of the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office.

Rhodes is accused of indecency with a child/sexual contact and having an inappropriate relationship with a student. Investigators say the mother of a 13-year-old girl from Lake Olympia came forward after intercepting a graphic text message from the teacher.

Detectives say their investigation since has revealed at least one incident in a classroom at the school where the teacher allegedly touched a student. And they've learned at least two other girls who were students at the time might have been victimized.

"Anybody that attended that school, we're interesting in knowing if she had any contact with them in an inappropriate manner," said Chief Brady.

According to Chief Brady, part of the reason the investigation has taken so long is due to difficulty in obtaining records from cell phone company, Sprint.

Sprint did not comment on the case, but Sprint Spokesperson Jason Gertzen said in a statement, "Sprint maintains a serious commitment to upholding our responsibility and being responsive in a timely manner to authorized law enforcement requests."

Authorities say the victim was not a student in Rhodes' class.

"We believe some of this conduct, the inappropriate touching, did happen on school grounds," Brady said.

Brady also said officials believe there may be other victims, and asked them to come forward.

That's worrisome to some parents at Lake Olympia today.

"I'd be very upset if that happened to my daughter," said parent James Norton.

The school district placed Rhodes on administrative leave for a year. Fort Bend ISD says it was only aware of allegations that Rhodes texted inappropriately. The district says it was given no specific information about the ongoing investigation, and since no charges were filed Rhodes was allowed to return to work.

Rhodes taught briefly at Garcia Middle School before moving to Fort Settlement this year. Parents there are in disbelief after hearing what she's accused of and are wondering how she could be allowed to return to work.

"I'm shocked. I guess I don't know what to say," said parent Maggie Hogan.

Fort Bend ISD insists it was never informed of any allegations of inappropriate touching in this case. The district said they will ask the school board to terminate Rhodes' contract during its next meeting.

Rhodes is being held on $30,000 bond. If Rhodes is convicted she faces two to 20 years jail time.

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