According to KHOU 11, a former Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher Manuel Edgardo Ponce, 45, was officially charged on Monday February 13, 2023, after eight students came forward with allegations he abused them at Sutton Elementary School located at 7402 Albacore Dr, Houston, TX 77074.
Ponce, a former 2nd-grade teacher, is accused of unbuttoning the pants of one of his former students in February 2020 and looking down to see her private parts. The girl, now in 5th grade, told a teacher that Ponce would tell the other students to take a restroom break and ask her to stay behind so he could look at her private parts. She alleged this happened daily.
On Monday, the state prosecutor said other students in Ponce's classroom during the 2021 to 2022 school year shared a very similar story. Some of the victims, as young as eight years old, said Ponce touched them inappropriately in their private areas.
According to Houston ISD, Ponce resigned in July 2022, and Child Protective Services has launched an investigation into the situation. The case is ongoing, and it is unknown if more victims will come forward. Ponce has been released from jail on a $200,000 bond and won't be due back in court until his trial unless he violates his bond agreements. He faces charges including three counts of continued sex abuse of a child, one count of indecency with a child, and one count of indecent exposure.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan is an experienced sex abuse attorney in Texas. He often represents victims and their families by filing school sexual abuse lawsuits. Marc recently discussed what to do if an elementary school teacher sexually abused your child.
"School sexual abuse is a serious issue with lasting consequences for the victims of the abuse and their families. In order to protect students from this kind of abuse, schools have a duty to ensure that their personnel are aware of the laws governing sexual abuse and to take reasonable steps to prevent such abuse from occurring."
"Under the law, victims of sexual abuse have a right to justice, and an elementary school may be held accountable for failing to protect its students from abuse. This can include negligence on the part of the school for failing to properly train and supervise its personnel or for failing to investigate and report any allegations of abuse, and for neglecting to conduct background checks on all staff."
"An elementary school also has a duty to ensure that its personnel does not abuse their position of trust and that they take appropriate steps to protect students from sexual abuse. This includes regular monitoring of the behavior of teachers and other personnel, providing training on appropriate behavior, and taking appropriate disciplinary action when misconduct is reported."
"In cases of school sexual abuse, victims may seek justice through civil litigation, as well as through criminal proceedings. In civil cases, victims may be able to recover damages for the physical and emotional harm caused by the abuse. In criminal cases, victims may be able to obtain restitution for their losses and may also be able to seek justice through the prosecution of the abuser. Victims and their guardians should consult with an experienced sex abuse lawyer to discuss the best course of legal action."