The mother of an LBJ student who police say had an inappropriate relationship with teacher’s assistant Stephone Mercer is speaking out.
The teen’s mother, who will remain anonymous, says she saw the signs.
“There was a shift in her behavior about a year ago. Things were changing, things weren't as consistent as they would be. Her attitude got really nasty,” said the victim’s mother.
Police say Mercer met the student when she started running track.
She confided in him, talking to him about her problems, and seeing him as a friend.
“I think that he sold her a dream that they'd possibly be together. I believe he really caught her at a vulnerable time. Me and her were at odds and she needed to speak with someone and felt like she couldn't come to me,” said her mother.
Police say the victim's friend reported that Mercer and the student had sex in his truck October 11.
After Austin ISD police seized cell phones and conducted an investigation, he was booked into the Travis County Jail Monday. He has since, posted bond.
“I would like to see him prosecuted to the fullest extent, I would like to see him registered as a sex offender, I would like to see him blatantly embarrassed,” said the mother.
Lauren Callahan with the Texas Education Agency says the number of cases like these have been increasing since they began tracking them in 2009. “For the 2016-17 fiscal year the agency opened 302 cases involving an inappropriate relationship with a student or minor,” said Callahan.
The agency has the power to revoke a certificate from a superintendent, and now also, a principal’s certificate, if these inappropriate relationships are not reported.
That change occurred after Senate Bill 7 passed.
“As soon as we learn of information that indicates an educator is having a relationship with a student no matter the age, we are going to open a case,” said Callahan.
The victim’s mom thinks educators should be held to the highest standard, and that mercer should be used as an example. “Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen-year-old child, it's wrong...period. And a person over the age of 18, 19, 20 should know better,” said the student’s mom.
Mercer is charged with improper relationship between educator and student, a second degree felony. Austin ISD released this statement upon learning of the arrest warrant:
AISD’s top priority is the safety and security of students. With this in mind, the district regrets to inform our community that the AISD Police Department issued a warrant for the arrest of a teaching assistant on a charge of improper relationship with a student.
Upon learning of the allegations against the teaching assistant, AISD immediately placed the teaching assistant on administrative leave. AISD PD conducted an investigation and subsequently terminated him on Oct. 30.
The district has reported the incident to TEA. Because this investigation is ongoing, the district can provide no further details at this time.