UHLAND, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The Hays County Sheriff's Office says 29-year-old Mark Ortega Jr. inappropriately touched at least three children while working as a teacher's assistant at Uhland Elementary School. Ortega worked under the government run "Head Start" program.
“At this time we don't have any indication there are other victims, or any indication that something has occurred at other head start locations,” said Lt. Todd Riffe, Hays County Sheriff’s Office.
On Mar. 11, a deputy came out to the school to investigate inappropriate conduct by Ortega. One of the teachers said on Mar. 8, she saw him inappropriately touch a 5-year old while he played at the table. Ortega was then removed from the classroom.
The teacher also said back in February, Ortega may have locked a 4-year-old boy in the classroom bathroom with him. The witness said one of the students disappeared for some minutes.
Ortega then came out of the bathroom, and acted as if he was looking for the child. Once the four-year-old reappeared, Ortega claimed the child had been just hiding behind the bookshelf.
That same day, another four-year-old reported being touched by Ortega.
Ortega was arrested this week and charged with indecency with a child.
“Now this child has to cope with this, sometimes for the rest of their life. They have to seek counseling for no reason, other than, somebody took advantage of them,” said Riffe.
Head start hired Ortega. They are separate from Hays CISD, but Uhland Elementary is a district campus. The district sent out a letter to parents informing them of what happened.
The sheriff's office encourages any parent to call them if their child tells them they were inappropriately touched. “We're trying to ascertain if he was on other campuses,” said Riffe. If you feel like your child has been victimized by Ortega, call the Hays County Sheriff’s Office at 512-393-7800.