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La Vernia teacher on leave after sexual assault charge

La Vernia teacher on leave after sexual assault charge
WILLIAM J. GIBBS JR. La Vernia police Chief Bruce Ritchey (left) and school Superintendent Josť Moreno face a barrage of television cameras and members of the media during a Feb. 2 press conference to address allegations of a sexual relationship between a teacher and a high school student.

La Vernia High School physics teacher and tennis coach Taylor Vader, 27, of Universal City is on administrative leave while officials investigate an alleged sexual relationship between him and a 16-year-old female student.

Vader was arrested after being questioned Jan. 31 by the La Vernia Police Department, said police Chief Bruce Ritchey during a Feb. 2 press conference. He said Superintendent Josť Moreno of the La Vernia Independent School District (ISD) contacted him Jan. 28 after a student came forward with information about Vader’s involvement with the teen. The next day, Ritchey said, he received an anonymous tip that corroborated the story, which led to interviews with witnesses. The alleged victim and her parents also were interviewed, with the assistance of personnel from the Floresville-based Children’s Alliance of South Texas child advocacy center.

By the evening of Jan. 29, Ritchey said officials determined there was enough probable cause to arrest Vader a married father of two children. The suspect was asked to come to the police station for questioning Jan. 31, and he subsequently was arrested.

“He refused to talk after being read his Miranda rights,” Ritchey said.

Vader was charged with sexual assault of a child and with having an improper relationship between an educator and student.

Moreno credited the cooperation between the district, the police department, and the child advocacy center with bringing about Vader’s prompt arrest. He also praised the district’s students for being comfortable enough to have an open dialogue with teachers and administrators.

La Vernia ISD has established a process for dealing with allegations such as those against Vader. In addition to students being urged to report sexual abuse allegations to teachers, Moreno stressed the importance of parental involvement in their children’s lives.

“As a community, and with parents all around, we always need to assume nothing,” he said. “Always, always check on your students. Check on their phones. Check their home computers. The more involved, the more that you communicate with your children, the safer they’re going to be.”

La Vernia Mayor Robert Gregory said the scandal has rocked his small community. As the father of a 17-year-old girl, the mayor also stressed parental involvement. Gregory said that he and his wife regularly check their daughter’s cellular telephone and computer so they are aware of her activities.

“It can happen anywhere, if it can happen here,” he said.

According to the State Board for Educator Certification, Vader first was certified to teach in Texas in 2011. Ritchey said he has no prior criminal history.

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