Texas leads U.S. in number of teacher-student relationships

May 30, 2013 8:54:01 PM PDT
If you thought we've had a lot of teacher-student relationship allegations surface lately, you're right. Eyewitness News has learned that Texas leads the nation in these inappropriate relationships. And it turns out, not all cases are treated equally.

Former Alief ISD teacher Kelly Ann Garcia is facing two felony charges after prosecutors say she engaged in multiple sex acts with a 16-year-old female student that she met at Hastings High School. Garcia was fired when the allegations surfaced. The indictment describes graphic encounters with the minor, including a trip to a store to buy a sex toy.

The allegations would be shocking if they weren't so common.

"Somewhere in this country, twice a day, a teacher is sexually assaulting a student," said Terry Abbott with Drive West Communications.

Abbott, who is also the former U.S. Department of Education Chief of Staff, consults with school districts and says the problem begins with private communication between teachers and students via texting or sites like Facebook, which he says should be forbidden.

"There is no good reason for a teacher to exchange any private text message with a student. Don't do it," Abbott said.

Just this year in the U.S., there have been 208 cases of teacher-student sex crimes. Texas has the most cases at 40. In our viewing area alone, there were 15 cases -- that's two more than the entire state of New York; 40 percent involve teachers texting or sending messages to students.

"They start with innocent text messages and that very quickly moves to very sexually explicit messages," Abbott said.

Abbott says it will keep happening until districts make radical changes.

"This is an epidemic," he said.

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