Pastor Faces 2nd Indecency Charge

American Statesman
February 25, 2006

A Sims Elementary teacher has been placed on administrative leave after a student alleged that the teacher took inappropriate physical disciplinary action with him.

The alleged incident occurred Wednesday and was reported to Austin school district police Thursday, district police spokesman J.J. Schmidt said. District officials declined to name the teacher, citing the ongoing investigation.

"It's very early," Schmidt said. "It's going to take a while to get concrete information."

Sims Principal Texanna Turner sent a letter home to parents whose children were enrolled in the teacher's class, explaining that the teacher had been put on leave and that a substitute teacher would be retained pending the outcome of the investigation.

Sims is located at 1203 Springdale Road in East Austin.

Pastor faces 2nd indecency charge

South Austin pastor Rodolfo Sosa was charged with a second count of indecency with a child Friday after police spoke to a second underage parishioner who accused Sosa of fondling him. Police have said Sosa is a pastor at the Ciudad del Refugio Church.

Sosa, 48, was charged with the first count of indecency by contact last week. During an interview with police, the person making the complaint said another boy also had been fondled. Police then contacted his mother and obtained a statement from the child, a police affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, the boy said Sosa took him to a vacant apartment in the complex where Sosa worked and fondled him. The incidents occurred between last August and January. The charges, second-degree felonies, carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Man dies in car wreck

One man died in a car wreck Friday when a Honda traveling west on Loop 360 was struck by an Infiniti traveling south on MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). The name of the victim was not immediately released. The driver of the Infiniti was not injured, police said. Police said they think that the Honda failed to stop at a red light.

Man arrested in Internet sting

Austin Police Department Child Abuse unit detectives arrested a Corpus Christi man Friday, accusing him of soliciting sexual activity from a minor on the Web.

Jerry David Pierce was charged with criminal solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Bail was set at $25,000, and Pierce was barred from entering Internet chat rooms or using instant-messaging until his trial.

Police said Pierce began talking to a detective posing as an underage female in October 2005.

"The topic turned to sexual content at several different points, and he started to mention meeting in person," Detective Trent Watts said.

Conversations continued through February, police said, when Pierce arranged a meeting in the 6300 block of Interstate 35 South.


Two students face gun charges

Two Del Valle High School students were arrested Friday in connection with bringing a firearm to school.

The 15-year-old boys were charged with possession of a weapon in a prohibited place, a third-degree felony. As juveniles, the students could be sent to the Texas Youth Commission until their 21st birthdays as a maximum sentence. The students were transferred to the Gardner-Betts juvenile detention facility. Because they are minors, their names were not released.

At 12:49 p.m., Del Valle's school resource officer received a tip that there was a weapon in a backpack on campus, Travis County sheriff's office spokesman Roger Wade said. The officer, with help from school administrators, located the two students sitting at a picnic table outside the school, found the weapon and took the teens into custody amid a throng of students finishing their lunch period, Wade said.

The sheriff's office is investigating whether anyone else was involved, Wade said.

This is the first time this year a gun has been found at Del Valle, district spokeswoman Celina Bley said. Principal Jean MacInnis was planning to send a letter home to parents informing them of the incident.


Makeovers for victims of violence

Victims of domestic violence will be pampered this afternoon during the Round Rock Police Department's second annual Day of Beauty.

Georgetown salons will provide 11 women, chosen by law enforcement agencies from around Williamson County, with free makeovers, including haircuts, coloring, makeup and massages. The event, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. will also feature food and live music.

It is an opportunity for the women, who have overcome adversity and focused their energy on their families, to relax and take care of themselves, said Rita Turner, victim assistance coordinator for the Round Rock police.


Police ask for help in finding man

Police are asking for people's help in finding Lino Gonzalez Escamilla, 29, who is accused of molesting his girlfriend's 9-year-old daughter at their Round Rock apartment.

Escamilla is charged with indecency with a child, Round Rock police spokesman Eric Poteet said.

Police think that Escamilla fled to the Dallas area and may be living with friends or relatives in Arlington. Police also traced a telephone call from Escamilla that originated from a North Platte, Neb., area code, Poteet said. Escamilla is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 135 pounds, and has brown hair and a scar on the left side of his chin. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Bernie Villegas at (512) 218-5500.

Council puts park sale to voters

The City Council voted Thursday night to place the sale of McNeil Park, at the southeast corner of University Boulevard and Interstate 35, on the May election ballot.

The park, which holds two tennis courts, two softball fields and restroom facilities, is out of room, city officials said. They want to sell the park's 18 acres, appraised at $2.5 million last year, and use the revenue to build a new five-field adult softball complex, complete with concessions and restrooms, at Old Settlers Park.

The park is located south of an IKEA furniture store scheduled to open next year. Deed restrictions from McNeilab Inc., which donated and sold the 18 acres to Round Rock from 1979 through 1981, specify that the city must maintain the acreage as park land, City Attorney Steve Sheets said.

Even if voters approve the sale of the land, Round Rock would need the Endeavor Real Estate Group of Austin to waive its reversionary rights. Endeavor now owns the site where the former McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals building was torn down last year.


Community tile wall to be unveiled

The Georgetown Partners in Education will unveil its community tile wall at 10 a.m. today at Wolf Ranch.

The event, which runs until 2 p.m., showcases a wall made of nearly 400 tiles painted with themes reflecting the city. Other activities include cameos by mascots, police and fire officials, and demonstrations from gymnastics and martial-arts groups. Wolf Ranch is located at Texas 29 and Interstate 35 in Georgetown.


Man sought in abduction attempt

Police are looking for a man they think attempted to abduct an 11-year-old girl while she was at her bus stop Friday morning in Kyle, said Sgt. Leroy Opiela of the Hays County Sheriff's Office.

At about 7:40 a.m., the girl was at the stop on Hemptstead Drive, in the Blanco River Crossing subdivision, when a man inside a blue Ford pickup asked her if she'd seen a black-and-brown dog, Opiela said. The man asked her name and opened his door, but drove away as her bus approached.

The girl described the driver as a man in his 30s with very short hair, and clean shaven with acne marks on his face, Opiela said. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Hays County Sheriff's Office at (512) 393-7896.


Students win science awards

Connally High School's Chris Lim and Danyelle Evans of Bowie High School won Best of Fair awards for the top science projects at the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair on Thursday.

Christopher Lorn, Shishira Mannuru and Nina Ezeenay of Connally won the Team Project Award.

Vista Ridge High School, in the Leander school district, and Murchison Middle School in Austin won top honors among schools, accumulating the largest point totals from winning science projects. The victory at the Austin Energy fair is the first for three-year-old Vista Ridge , which edged out Bowie for the top prize.

About 2,000 elementary school science projects will be on display beginning at 2 p.m. today at the Palmer Events Center. Admission and parking are free.


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