A math teacher at James Bowie High School in Austin has been placed on administrative leave and is facing a felony charge for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. 23-year-old Erica Dinora Gomez has been accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her former students.
According to police, the mother of a 15-year-old boy contacted authorities to report a sexual assault after finding sexually explicit Snapchat messages from a woman on her son's phone. After looking the woman up online, the mother realized that it was her son's former math tutor.
Gomez admitted that she met the victim in January and that a sexual relationship began in August. She has been charged with sexual assault of a child and improper relationship between educator and student.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan specializes in helping survivors of sexual violence find justice for the trauma they've gone through. Here is his perspective on the legal options available to survivors of sexual abuse by teachers:
A good teacher has the power to shape their student's lives in positive ways, helping them to learn new things and think about the world in different ways. However, abusive teachers can negatively affect their student's lives with long-lasting trauma and scars. When a teacher or another school employee sexually abuses a student, it's important for the student and their family to be aware of their legal rights.
Our schools should be safe and enriching spaces, so sexual abuse committed by teachers is an egregious violation of the public's trust. In some cases, the school district may be partially responsible for failing to protect their students due to negligence. For example, a district could be considered negligent for failing to fire a teacher with a history of sexual misconduct complaints, inadequate supervision, failing to run a background check, etc.
If your child has come forward about sexual abuse by a teacher and you'd like to learn more about your family's legal options, we advise speaking to an experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyer.