This week marked the underwhelming end to a case that saw the arrest of three Houston ISD administrators and forced the district to change its policy for reporting allegations of child abuse on its campuses.
Just as he was about to go to trial this week, former Sharptstown High School Spanish teacher Ysidoro Rosales-Motola pleaded guilty to two counts of improper relations with a student and one count of indecency with a student, with each charge carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Despite prosecutors arguing for a tough sentence and bringing up nine former male students to testify how Rosales-Motola molested them during private tutoring sessions, Rosales-Motola will face no prison time.
On Thursday, state district court Judge Kristin Guiney gave Rosales-Motola ten years probation and deferred adjudication. If he stays out of trouble, the admitted child molester won't have a felony conviction on his record; still, Rosales-Motola has lost his teaching certificate and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Harris County District Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff McShan would only tell us that the office is disappointed in the judge's ruling. But prosecutor Jane Waters had this explanation for the Houston Chronicle: Perhaps the light punishment indicates how pissed the judge was about how HISD, police and prosecutors handled the case.
After Rosales-Motola was arrested, the DA's office announced that he'd been accused of touching a male student two years prior when he was a teacher at Westbury High School, another HISD campus. HISD police had brought the case to the DA's office, which concluded there wasn't enough evidence to accept charges against Rosales-Motola.
So, when Rosales-Motola was later transferred to Sharpstown, one would think HISD officials would be on high alert. Instead, here's what happened, according to the DA's office: In early October 2013, a male student told his ESL teacher that another instructor had touched his genitals. Word of the allegations ultimately reached Sharpstown principal Rob Gasparello and two assistant principals, Silvio Leiva and Jason Thomson, none of whom reported the abuse to authorities. Gasparello, Leiva and Thompson were all later arrested and charged with failure to report sexual abuse.
Gasparello, via attorney Rusty Hardin, later insisted he followed the spirit if not the letter of Texas's law requiring child abuse be reported to authorities within 48 hours. Hardin told us back in 2013 that Gasparello told the victim's parents about the allegations, and that he reported the allegations to his bosses at HISD within 72 hours, expecting they'd contact law enforcement.
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Clearly someone dropped the ball. According to the criminal complaint against Gasparello, investigators weren't even aware of the allegations against Rosales-Motola until someone at Sharpstown quietly approached an HISD police investigator to ask what was happening with the investigation in late October, two weeks after the first student had come forward to complain about Rosales-Motola's behavior. “There was no pending investigation with Mr. Rosales because he had not been reported to the police,” the complaint against Gasparello states.
Ultimately, Harris County DA Devon Anderson announced that HISD and her office had struck a deal last October. With HISD promising to change its child abuse reporting policies, Anderson agreed to drop charges against Gasparello and Leiva if they stayed out of trouble for one year; the charge against Thomson was dropped entirely.
It was against this backdrop that Judge Guiney this week decided Rosales-Motola shouldn't face prison time for molesting numerous students. Here's the frustrated explanation prosecutor Jane Waters gave the Chron following the judge's decision yesterday:
"She blames the way HISD handled the matter, which has nothing to do with Rosales's behavior," Waters said. "She wants to blame HISD, Houston Police Department and our office for Rosales being a sexual predator."