A lawsuit filed against Katy ISD by a former Katy High School student asks this one basic question: Why did the district keep around an art teacher accused in the past of being a creep to female students just long enough so that he could get arrested for having sex with one?
Filed last week in federal court, the lawsuit claims Katy ISD was aware of at least two other cases since 2002 in which art teacher Robert Milton was accused of having inappropriate relationships or conversations with high school girls — but did nothing to discipline him and instead just shuffled him to another school. That's why lawyers for the unnamed girl, who graduated in 2015, believe Katy ISD could have prevented the sexual relationship Milton pursued with her. She has since needed therapy to get over what happened, the lawsuit says.
"Milton used his position of authority to coerce [Jane Doe], a young vulnerable girl, into an improper sexual relationship while she was a student at Katy High School," the girl's lawyer, Joshua Verde, wrote in the suit. "Defendants herein had actual knowledge of Milton's inappropriate and criminal behavior toward young female students and did nothing about it. In fact, they conspired with Milton to conceal the inappropriate conduct and helped him transfer to another school within the school district."
Milton was charged in July 2016 with having an inappropriate relationship with a student after the girl told her parents about the relationship so that she could get help through counseling. Her parents immediately reported him to Katy ISD.
According to court documents, the relationship began on Instagram, with Milton telling the girl that he was unhappy in his marriage and available to date. Then it eventually progressed to him sending her dick pics.
In April 2015, Milton offered to take the girl's senior pictures at the Cullen Sculpture Garden in Houston, and when it began to rain, they ran back to his car, where he kissed her and slipped his hand up her dress, according to the criminal complaint. After that, the girl told police, they often made out in a storage closet in his classroom after school and went to motels or to his car to have sex on various occasions.
"She explained that one time prior to her graduation, they were having sex in the defendant's car while parked somewhere in Brookshire, Texas, when they were interrupted by a police officer," a Katy ISD police officer wrote in Milton's criminal complaint. "She explained she remembered the officer telling the defendant that he was old enough to be her father and to get out of there."
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Milton was sentenced to four years of probation and deferred adjudication. During the investigation, the girl and her parents found out about past allegations of inappropriate conduct waged against Milton, forming the basis of the lawsuit.
In 2002, a Mayde Creek High School girl's uncle discovered suggestive letters Milton wrote to her, saying he wanted to be "more than a big brother to her" in one, according to the lawsuit. That girl, called Jackie in the suit, then fled to Louisiana immediately after her uncle reported Milton to Katy ISD. But instead of disciplining Milton, the lawsuit claims, Katy ISD just decided to move him to another high school — where he would eventually meet the plaintiff. According to the lawsuit, Milton was again investigated for an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2012, but Katy ISD has asked the Texas Attorney General's Office to block the plaintiff's attorneys from looking into the allegations further. According to Katy ISD's letter to the AG, the allegations about the inappropriate relationship were not upheld and no further action was taken.
Katy ISD administration would not comment on the allegations contained in the suit, citing pending litigation, but released this statement about Milton:
On July 16, 2016 former teacher, Robert Milton was immediately placed on administrative leave following allegations of an inappropriate teacher-student relationship. Amid the investigation, Milton resigned from Katy ISD and voluntarily surrendered his teaching certificate to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). District administration worked closely with the Katy ISD Police and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to file criminal charges against Milton at the close of the investigation.