A former LBJ High School teacher's assistant has been charged after allegations that he had improper relationship with a student, according to court documents.
The documents state that on Oct. 12, a teacher's assistant at the school reported to administration that Stephone Mercer, 27, was involved in a sexual relationship with a juvenile female student. An Austin police officer spoke with the teacher's assistant who reported that she first heard about the incident from the alleged victim's friend, who told her the victim and Mercer had sexual intercourse inside of his truck.
Austin Independent School District seized both the victim's and Mercer's cell phones that day as evidence and both provided written consent for the devices to be searched. During the search, documents state a large amount of text messages between the two were discovered that indicated they were in an apparent sexual relationship.
On Oct. 27, police met with the victim, who stated she met Mercer while participating in school athletics but wasn't sure when the relationship started.
After explaining to her what they discovered through the text message evidence, police asked about the interaction in Mercer's vehicle. Documents state that she initially thought he was a senior or someone who had just graduated based upon where she saw him and how he was dressed. She explained that they got to know each other throughout the school year and that he helped her cope with some of the things that were going on in her life.
The victim stated that between Mercer helping her with her problems and learning that he had cancer, she began to see him more as a friend than as a teacher.
Police said that they met with Mercer on Oct. 30 for a non-custodial interview. Police provided cell phone evidence that had previously been deleted from his phone, which suggested an apparent relationship between him and the victim.
Mercer was charged with improper relationship between educator and student, a second-degree felony.
AISD said Mercer was fired from the district on Oct. 30. AISD released this statement upon the issue of his arrest warrant:
AISD’s top priority is the safety and security of students. With this in mind, the district regrets to inform our community that the AISD Police Department issued a warrant for the arrest of a teaching assistant on a charge of improper relationship with a student.
Upon learning of the allegations against the teaching assistant, AISD immediately placed the teaching assistant on administrative leave. AISD PD conducted an investigation and subsequently terminated him on Oct. 30.
The district has reported the incident to TEA. Because this investigation is ongoing, the district can provide no further details at this time.