Texas Conference Sued for Sexual Assault of 8th Grade Girl
by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, August 14, 2014
A teacher at Burton Adventist Academy in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, pled guilty in June to continued sexual abuse of a child under age 14 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison without parole. Last week the family of the girl who was 13 at the time of the abuse filed a lawsuit against the Texas Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination for failure to protect the child, reports the local daily paper, the Star-Telegram.
Carlos E. Rodriguez pled guilty in Tarrant County court and was sentenced in June. He had been employed as a teacher and basketball coach at the school operated by the conference. The family still lives in the area and has not been identified in order to protect the privacy of the child.
"This has been pretty traumatic and she has been in counseling and will continue to be in counseling," attorney Hal Browne was quoted by the newspaper and identified as representing the family. "She has the strong support of her family." Administrators at Burton Adventist Academy and the Texas Conference have declined to comment.
Burton Adventist Academy offers preschool through secondary education. A pastor at the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church contacted authorities about the case, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. At least one other faculty member knew that Gonzales had been taking the girl out of regular classes and "spending an inordinate amount of time" with her, according to court filings quoted by the newspaper.
The child was in Grade 8 and "repeatedly raped" the court filing states. Dale Smith, Tarrant County prosecutor has told the news media that the child's family agreed to the plea deal of 30 years in prison with no opportunity for parole. Under Texas law it could have been a life sentence.