The orchestra director at Pasadena's Dobie High School has been arrested for online solicitation of a 15-year-old boy, police in Pearland say.
Benjamin Clark Childress, 26, met the boy through a Craigslist ad and was found drunk in a car parked with him at a remote field in Manvel on March 24, police say. It was the boy who had placed the ad; the two then had phone and text messages that were "sexual in nature," a Pearland police spokesman says.
Childress was arrested for public intoxication and then released.
Manvel police then contacted the Brazoria County DA's office for help, and they turned to a Pearland officer who specializes in Internet sex crimes. He "uncovered evidence that supported the suspect's initial account of how he met the juvenile," police say.
Manvel police wanted to be sure they "had enough evidence" before arresting Childress on solicitation charges, Pearland spokesman Lt. Onesimo Lopez tells Hair Balls.
He was arrested Monday for online solicitation of a minor, a second degree felony.
Pearland describes Childress as a teacher; a Dobie staff directory lists him as orchestra director.
Childress faces two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Update: Pasadena school district spokesperson Candace Ahlfinger tells Hair Balls Childress has resigned. He had been with the district for a year, and had been placed on administrative leave after the arrest.
"We always takes these things very seriously," she said, and the district's police department is conducting its own investigation.
The district sent out a letter to members of the Dobie High orchestra:
The safety and well-being of our students and staff is a top priority at Dobie High School. Therefore, I want to make you aware of a situation that has occurred.
The district received a report that Mr. Benjamin Childress has been charged with online solicitation of a minor from outside the district. Immediately upon hearing the report, the district placed the teacher on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation and Mr. Childress has since resigned. Our Pasadena ISD police department is also actively investigating.
No additional incidents have been reported at this time. However, the Pasadena ISD police are asking for your help. If you have knowledge of this incident or any other incident involving this teacher and any student on our campus, please report your concerns to the Detective Sgt. Arnold Magana, Pasadena ISD Police Department at 713-740-0200.
Any time a teacher violates the trust of a child, it makes it more difficult for the thousands of teachers who care deeply for the safety and well-being of the children. We will continue to work together to provide a safe and secure place for your children to learn.
Thank you for your concern.