Fired lacrosse coach accused of leaving graphic graffiti messages at students' homes

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A fired high school lacrosse coach has been charged with painting graphic graffiti messages at several locations in West University Place, including the homes of students who lodged complaints against him, according to police.

Thomas Christian Zaleski, 39, faces a felony graffiti charge. He was arrested at his home near West University on Thursday.

West U police shared photos of the graffiti, which are too graphic to publish.

They depict images of male genitalia and include the names of two young men. One is a former student at Episcopal High School and the other is a current student.

"You look at the allegation and on its face, it just looks like graffiti, and graffiti can be unsightly. But if you look more into this is, there are targeted individuals, a targeted family," said Napoleon Stewart, the 228th District Court Chief Prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney's Office. "There seems to be bullying going on. Harassment."

According to court records, Zaleski is accused of causing almost $9,000 in damage over a month's time at six West U locations. A surveillance camera caught him in the act, according to court records.

ABC13 confirmed Zaleski used to be a part-time lacrosse coach at Episcopal, one of Houston's most expensive private high schools.

Court documents said he was fired after allegations that he sent inappropriate messages to student-athletes, including the two whose names were emblazoned in graffiti.

Zaleski was given a $5,000 bond and was released from jail Friday evening. If convicted, he could face up to two years in state jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

Jay Cohen, Zaleski's hired defense attorney, said, "We are still investigating and are looking forward to learning more about the allegations."

Stewart said police are still investigating the incident, too.

"We're glad we're able to end this nightmare, this embarrassment for this family for the time being," said Stewart.

Meanwhile, Episcopal High School issued the following statement regarding the case:

"We have been made aware of incidents of vandalism targeting an EHS student and former student, as well as the allegation the vandalism was committed by a former part-time EHS coach. EHS is committed to fostering a community of character, integrity and honor, and this irresponsible behavior is beneath the dignity of our community. We have been in touch with the family of the targeted students, and we will do all we can to support them."

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Jessica Willey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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