Victoria schools superintendent says trainer's acts hurt district

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Feb. 12, 2014 at 12:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.

Victoria school district Superintendent Robert Jaklich frowned on the stand Wednesday when speaking about an East High School athletic trainer who had sex with a student at the Patti Welder Middle School parking lot.

"It is just totally unacceptable," Jaklich said. "It should not have happened."

Jaklich was testifying in the punishment phase of the trial of Jesse Earl Holmes, 32.

Holmes pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of sexual assault of a child. He was arrested in October 2012 after he admitted to police and Jaklich that he had sex with a 15-year-old.

Jaklich said Holmes' arrest damaged the community's trust in the district, which he said is responsible first and foremost for its students' safety.

"We have to overcome that, and that's a tragedy," he said.

Jaklich was not aware Holmes is accused of having sex with another 16-year-old student, who is not the subject of the case heard by a jury Tuesday and Wednesday.

Text messaging students after 9 p.m. is not appropriate, Jaklich said.

That's why teachers must fill out a form with the district in advance that specifies when they will text message students. They must also refrain from text messaging about personal matters or befriending students on Facebook, he said.

During cross examination, Holmes' attorney, Dexter Eaves, tried to understand how Jaklich or other administrators supervise those interactions.

"Do you have any checks and balances to see what's really going on?" Eaves asked.

Eaves was also curious about why the school district's attorney was in the courtroom. He asked Jaklich whether that had anything to do with the victim's family suing VISD. Jaklich said VISD had received a letter from the family but had not been sued.

There was not a lawsuit against VISD on file with the district clerk's office as of Wednesday afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Johna Stallings objected to the questions' relevance, and Judge Jack Marr sustained her objections.

The girl's mother described life with her daughter after the assaults as a "nightmare."

The family has remodeled the home where one of the assaults took place so it does not call up bad memories. The girl still cries and has angry outbursts, though.

"With prayer and counseling, I feel like she will pull through it," her mother said.

One of the arguments the state has made throughout the case is Holmes knew the girl was susceptible to his influence because her father died of stomach cancer when she was 8.

"It really affected her seeing her daddy waste away," her mother said.

Danna Harrison, a counselor, said the girl is also self-conscious about her club foot.

"She felt that this (being a student trainer) was something she could do that would help her belong," Harrison said. The trainer program is not available at her new school.

Other students have shunned her since Holmes' arrest, too, Harrison said.

"He was well-liked among the students. Everyone was on his side," Harrison said.

The girl also said Holmes had been molested as a child, and something in his life could have triggered his behavior in 2012, Harrison said.

Harrison was not allowed to answer whether she thought a sex offender could be or has been in the past rehabilitated with counseling while serving probation.

Police officer Daniel Boots also testified he could not extract data from the girl's phone and did not enlist a federal agency the Victoria Police Department sometimes works with to do so.

Holmes faces anywhere from two to 20 years in prison. He also asked for probation.

The Victoria Advocate does not identify sexual assault victims. To protect her identity, the newspaper will not name the girl's mother.

The trial recessed early Wednesday after the alleged victim in Holmes' second case did not honor a subpoena. In that case, Holmes is charged with two counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student, second-degree felonies. Officers needed time to pick up the girl from North Texas. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday.



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