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Section A: General News


Eagle Ford: Police arrest Nixon-Smiley teacher




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Wilson County News
April 17, 2013 | 2,400 views | Post a comment

NIXON -- Police here have arrested a 24-year-old Nixon-Smiley Middle School teacher following allegations that he had an improper relationship with a 14-year-old female student.

Seventh-grade teacher Houston Alan Mercier, who also volunteered as a coach at Nixon-Smiley High School, has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, said district Superintendent Cathy Booth. The superintendent said it was April 9 when she began receiving information about the alleged incident, which police said reportedly occurred on the evening of April 6.

Booth said she called Police Chief Chris Almaguer early the next morning. The chief said police were en route to question Mercier, and the teacher was taken into custody at the district’s administrative offices. A statement from Almaguer said police charged Mercier with an “improper relationship between educator and student,” which is a second-degree felony. Mercier was transported to the Gonzales County Jail, where records indicate he posted $30,000 bond and was released April 10.

The district sent letters home with students that day, and Booth released a statement on the district’s website. A copy of the statement is available with this story online at wilsoncountynews.com.

Booth said that Mercier was hired by the district in October, and that there were “no red flags” when he underwent fingerprinting and a criminal background check. She said that all district volunteers and employees are subjected to these checks prior to having contact with students.

“We take all the steps we can and even do the extra stuff sometimes to ensure the safety of our children,” Booth said. “This is the first such incident I’m aware of in this district, and we’re very fortunate of that. I hope it’s the last.”

According to the Texas Education Agency website, Mercier began his teaching career in the state in 2011 and was reprimanded in August 2012, for which details were not provided.

If convicted, Mercier faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
 

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