Last week, Sharpstown Principal Rob Gasparello and two assistant principals, Silvio Leiva and Jason Thomson, were arrested and charged with counts of failure to report sexual abuse of students. Now, the lawyer representing Gasparello is saying he did everything right.
Gasparello was charged in relation to two reported incidents, one with a 16-year-old student who said she'd been sexually assaulted before school, another concerning a teacher, Ysidoro Rosales-Motola, who allegedly had sexual contact with three different male students. Both the incidents were reported to Gasparello in October and the principal failed to contact law enforcement regarding these incidents, according to court documents.
However, Rusty Hardin, the lawyer representing Gasparello, has come out with a statement claiming that Gasparello actually did handle things according to the law and report the incidents.
"The spirit of this law was to be used against people who hide abuse allegations - not against people who take them seriously and act immediately like Mr. Gasparello did" Hardin said in a statement.
According to Hardin, the principal, who has been much vaunted for his efforts to turn Sharpstown High School around before he got arrested and everything, took appropriate measures in both cases.
"It is extremely unfair and unfortunate that he faces misdemeanor charges for allegedly not reporting possible abuse. That paints him in a false light. He in fact conscientiously looked into the two incidents and took swift action," Hardin stated in the release.
In regards to the reported sexual assault of the 16-year-old student, Hardin says Gasparello informed the girl's mother of an off-campus assault by a family member. He then made sure the girl and her mother reported the incident to the Houston Police Department within four hours of learning of the incident. He also got her counseling, according to Hardin.
Rosales-Motola was charged with with one felony count of indecency with a child and two felony counts of an improper relationship with a student. These charges stem from incidents that occurred, one in May and two in October. Rosales-Motola was arrested on Friday after he failed to show up for his court date.
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According to Hardin, on learning of the allegations, Gasparello immediately took steps to ensure Rosales-Motola was not alone with students and that there was always an adult present while investigating. He then reported the matter to the parents of the students and got them counseling. He also reported the allegations to his superiors within 72 hours, expecting them to contact law enforcement, according to Hardin's statement.
In the Hardin version of things, Gasparello did everything right, a remarkably different version of events from those related in court documents. (According to court documents, Gasparello learned of these allegations and the sexual assault of the student in October, but failed to contact law enforcement.)
Jeff McShan, spokesman with the Harris County District Attorney's office, is getting back to us with a statement and we'll update as soon as he does.
Denisse Cantu, HISD spokesperson, said that as this is an ongoing criminal investigation the district has no comment at the present time, about the case.