HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston high school principal charged with failing to report allegations from students of sexual abuse, including complaints against a teacher, promptly reported the incidents and the accusations against him are smearing his “good name,” his attorney said Tuesday.
Principal Rob Gasparello, 58, who works at Sharpstown High School, was charged last week with three counts of failure to report child abuse after two 17-year-old male students said a teacher had inappropriately touched them and a 16-year-old female student said she was abused before school. All the incidents took place in October.
Assistant principals Jason Thomson, 28, and Silvio Leiva, 50, each also face one count of the same misdemeanor charge.
The teacher, Ysidoro Rosales-Motola, 56, was arrested last week on two counts of improper relationship with a student and one count of indecency with a child. Rosales-Motola and the three administrators are all free on bond.
Chris Tritico, an attorney for Rosales-Motola, as well as Gary Tabakman, Thomson’s lawyer, have declined to comment on the case. John Belk, Leiva’s attorney, did not immediately return a call Tuesday. Rosales-Motola and Thomson appeared in court this week. Gasparello and Leiva are set to be in court on Dec. 4.
Gasparello’s attorney, high-profile Houston criminal defense lawyer Rusty Hardin, said in a statement Tuesday that the principal quickly began investigating the claims against the teacher and made sure the teacher was not alone with students and that the students’ parents were informed.
“When he had some idea of the facts involved, he reported these cases to his superiors within roughly 72 hours with the belief they would notify law enforcement,” Hardin said.
With regard to the allegations made by the female student, Gasparello immediately told the girl’s mother about the claims and “made sure the mother and victim reported this to police,” Hardin said.
But Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said last week that reporting such allegations to an employer is “not sufficient notification.”
“Your duty is to repot to a law enforcement agency or to Children’s Protective Services, not to anyone you work for,” she said.
Hardin said that the accusations against the principal paint him “in a false light” and that his client looked into the incidents and “took swift action.”
“The spirit of this law was to be used against people who hide abuse allegations _ not against people who take them seriously and act immediately like Mr. Gasparello did,” Hardin said in his statement. “I pray that the public and law enforcement will not use this application of the law to blindly smear the good name of a caring and careful educator who is exactly the kind of person we need in our schools.”
The Houston school district says because of the ongoing investigation, it can’t comment on the allegations.
The district said it has hired a Houston law firm, Thompson & Horton LLP, to review policies and make recommendations as they relate to the high school.
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