Trainer pleads guilty to having sex with student

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Feb. 11, 2014 at 10:05 a.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.

A Victoria East High School athletic trainer juggled several relationships with female students before he was arrested for having sex with a 15-year-old, according to testimony Tuesday.

Jesse Earl Holmes, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to two counts of sexual assault of a child. He was arrested in October 2012.

Now, jurors will decide his punishment, which can be anywhere from two to 20 years in prison.

Daniel Simons, a former sergeant with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, said he found numerous text messages on Holmes' cellphone that showed he was "grooming" several female students. Grooming is when a predator makes a child comfortable before sexually assaulting him or her. It begins with subtle jokes with sexual undertones, Simons said.

"Depending upon what the child's response is, they (a predator) will build up from there," Simons said.

Some messages Holmes sent to female students read: "You have low self-esteem, but you are beautiful and wonderful. I would love to date you," and "You like that hug. I can feel it in your body," Simons said.

Simons also recovered sexually explicit pictures of Holmes he sent to another female student from his cellphone. In some photos, he posed with girls who looked like teenagers wearing sports bras in a bathroom.

Holmes is charged in another case with two counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student, second-degree felonies. In that pending case, the alleged victim is a different girl who was 16 at the time she claims she had sex with Holmes.

The girl in Tuesday's case was one of the student athletic trainers Holmes supervised.

Holmes arranged her schedule so they could be together. At one point, he allowed her to attend a football game when she was failing a class. The two had sex in her house when her family was not home and about a week later in a car parked at Patti Welder Middle School, the girl testified.

She said she felt scared and confused at certain points in their relationship but believed she was in love.

"After the first time, I felt guilty about it. I didn't want to do it again," the girl said.

While on the witness stand, she broke out in sobs.

The girl said after she confided in others about what happened, Holmes became angry and distant, flirting with other female students to make her jealous.

"Not a lot of people want to talk to me anymore," she said, adding she's felt alienated by other students ever since his arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Johna Stallings also played for the jury Holmes' recorded interview with Detective David Ruiz of the Victoria Police Department. Holmes denied the two had sex until Ruiz confronted him with the text messages.

Stallings said in her opening statement that the girl had looked up to Holmes because her father died when she was young.

The girl agreed upon questioning by Dexter Eaves, who represents Holmes, that she was a willing participant, though. Eaves also pointed out that law enforcement does not know whether the girls in some of the photos on Holmes' cellphone are underage.

Holmes filed a notice with the court to seek probation.

Holmes began teaching at Victoria East High School in 2010.

He no longer works for the district.

The Victoria Advocate does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The trial resumes 9 a.m. Wednesday before Judge Jack Marr.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating Thursday.



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