Former Permian High School history teacher and swimming/diving coach Kathryn Maples, 28, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student, a second-degree felony.
She resigned April 8 from her job at Ector County Independent School District amid an investigation that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student.
An Ector County grand jury indicted Maples Monday on three charges of improper relationship between an educator and student, according to a news release issued by the Ector County District Attorney’s Office.
The three counts include sending sexually explicit pictures as well as online solicitation of a student, according to the release.
However in May, the ECISD police department determined they didn't have enough evidence to support criminal charges against Maples, nor against April Collins, 28, who was at the same time being investigated for an improper relationship with a 19-year-old male student. No charges have been filed against Collins.
District Attorney Bobby Bland said his office has the file on Collins, but he said he could not discuss the case further.
Maples was arrested by U.S. Marshals Wednesday at the Woodview Apartments, 4330 Grandview Ave. and was booked into Ector County Jail by 7:40 a.m. on $60,000 bond. She bailed out at 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Ector County Jail.
Bland specifically requested the file from ECISD police after their investigation, according to the news release, and Bland was then “able to obtain sufficient information to formally charge the defendant.”
Maples was arrested Wednesday morning by District Attorney Chief Investigator Joe Commander and the U.S. Marshals, according to the release.
An improper relationship between an educator and student is defined this way by the Texas Penal Code, section 21:12: An employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits an offense if the employee engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled … at (the school) which the employee works and who is not the employee’s spouse.
The offense is a second-degree felony and could carry between two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Bland said in an interview that his office received the file the middle of May, a couple weeks after ECISD police said they would not be charging Maples.
First he called ECISD police and asked them about the case, Bland said. After ECISD police gave him some information, Bland said he asked them to file the case with his office.
“I thought it was important for us to review the facts of the case,” Bland said. “Any time that you have an educator that’s maybe involved in an improper relationship, it’s important to make sure that that’s reviewed thoroughly. Because if someone is doing that, you need to make sure you take steps that they can’t do it again.”
Bland said he would not get into the specific facts of why the case was indicted despite no charges from ECISD police.
“We were able to develop new evidence,” he said. “Sometimes we have tools available that they do not.”
Two of the charges are specific to pictures in text messages, Bland said, and the third charge is accusing inappropriate online solicitation.
“The educator-student relationship is an important relationship and someone that takes advantage of that needs to be held accountable,” Bland said.
Chris Maples, who is the process of divorcing Kathryn after nearly five years of marriage, questions the investigation of ECISD’s police department that turned up no criminal charges against Kathryn Maples. He was never interviewed by ECISD police during their investigation, Chris Maples said.
“It’s ridiculous that the school is the only one to do the investigation on a matter of something of that degree,” Chris Maples said on Wednesday morning. He had not heard that Kathryn had been arrested until the interview, but had called her last night so their two boys could talk to their mother.
He believes ECISD tried to “put a Band-Aid on the problem. They washed their hands of it by getting her out of the district,” but he believes Kathryn shouldn’t be around children.
“The way this was handled makes me hesitant to put your kid in the school district,” he said.
Maples, who joined the district in June 2012, swam on El Paso Jefferson’s varsity team from 1998 to 2002, and graduated from Texas Tech in 2011, according to a previous Odessa American story.
She was a student teacher in the fall of 2011 while volunteering as an assistant swimming coach at Lubbock ISD.
Maples’ teaching certificate is under review by the State Board for Educator Certification’s Profession Discipline Unit as the Texas Education Agency conducts its own investigation, which continues until there is court of law action of some kind, DeEtta Culbertson said, a TEA spokeswoman.
“We can only take action on someone’s certificate,” Culbertson said.
Varying degrees of punishment could occur for a public school educator in Texas, such as a verbal warning, suspension, probation or a revocation of a certificate.
ECISD Police Chief Mark Rowden did not return phone calls for comment Wednesday, but did pass along information through Communications Director Mike Adkins. Rowden said that “ECISD police conducted a thorough investigation into the allegations against (Maples) but did not feel there was enough evidence to support criminal charges,” he said via email. “The DA has additional capabilities not necessarily available to law enforcement that they were able to use to obtain an indictment. ECISD police will continue to cooperate with the DA as this goes forward.”
Interim Superintendent H.T. Sanchez said in May that ECISD police did a thorough investigation and pulled all the information they could.
“They did everything we needed to,” Sanchez said in May.
Other ECISD employees investigated
A few similar cases have plagued ECISD in the past three years, beginning with the inappropriate relationship charge against Permian teacher Robert K. Young.
With just days left in the spring 2010 semester, Young was accused of starting a relationship with an 18-year-old female student, who was a graduating senior.
He is not accused of having sex with the teen, but was accused of having a sexual relationship, including heavy petting and sending nude videos and photos.
Young’s case has not been disposed of and no hearings are listed in the court system.
Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland has said in previous interviews his office has been working on Young’s case, which has been assigned to Assistant District Attorney Teresia Depoyster, but he said he could not comment further as it is a pending case.
The case has not yet reached a conclusion.
In 2011, former Bonham Junior High teacher Bryan Dale Berta was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl on four separate occasions, multiple times each encounter.
Berta pleaded guilty in December 2011 to four counts of sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on each count and pay to $10,000 in restitution.