ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A former Hudson High School teacher and his student are now married following allegations of an improper relationship between an educator and student.
"To me, because I worked in Angelina County, I knew where their city's were that they were living in, and I remember asking, you came all the way to Cherokee County to get your marriage license and that's all I said," said Cherokee County Deputy Clerk Cheryl Cameron.
The clerk said she remembers Gonzalez coming into the courthouse with his then soon-to-be bride.
Jesus "Jesse" Gonzalez, 24, filed for a marriage license on June 11, 2011 after the girl's 18th birthday, according to the clerk's office.
Gonzalez surrendered to authorities after being charged with having an improper relationship with his then, 17-year-old female student.
"They got married after she graduated from high school," said Gonzalez's attorney Al Charanza. "She is now 18 years old, an adult who can make decisions on her own."
When asked about the case, Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington said the marriage does complicate the case and he's not sure where the prosecution will go from here. He said he had to limit his comments at this time because the case was still pending.
"I don't know if I'll pursue charges," said Herrington.
The prosecutor cited two Texas statutes regarding spousal testimony, one "A spouse cannot be compelled to testify against their spouse." Another statute pertains to privilege that applies to communication during a marriage relating to a private conversation between spouses.
He said a spouse can choose to testify, but even if they choose to do so, they cannot talk about things said during a private conversation with their spouse. He said given the date of the marriage license in this case he would presume the wife would not be inclined to testify.
"It is the law and it is not our position as a school district to ignore the law," said Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker. "So we have followed all the requirements, reporting it to TEA."
"Even though it might be difficult to prosecute, there are some definite consequences that hopefully will deter others," said Licensed Professional Counselor Doctor Debra Burton. "It makes it very difficult because since there was a violation of boundaries, the professional in this case, the teacher, he is the one that is responsible for maintaining the boundaries."
A police affidavit states that on March 31, 2011, Michael Daniel, Hudson ISD Police Chief, received a call from a sergeant of the Angelina County Sheriff's department in reference to suspicious activity.
According to the affidavit, a deputy on patrol had approached a vehicle parked in a wooded area on FM 2497 and noticed a white male standing next to a small black car. The male was later identified as Jesus "Jesse" Gonzalez. Also in the car was a 17-year-old girl who said she was a student at Hudson High School. The student identified Gonzalez as a friend and teacher that she could talk to, the report stated.
Deputy M. Powell reported both Gonzalez and the girl appeared nervous, especially when he began questioning them about being in the isolated area. Gonzalez advised that he had pulled off the main highway so that he could call a friend on his cell phone.
The deputy called other officials to the area after suspecting that the two were not being truthful on their reasoning for being in this isolated location.
Upon further questioning the report said the student confirmed a relationship with Gonzalez, her debate teacher, stating that they had been involved in several physical acts. Chief Daniel was called out to the location and took the student to meet with her parents and the Hudson High School principal, according to the report.
Gonzalez has since resigned his position with Hudson ISD. He is charged with having an improper relationship between educator and student, which is a 2nd degree felony. He is currently out of jail on a $5,000 bond.
"I think it's more of a problem today because of the exposure of young people to a lot of things that they were not exposed to back in the 50s, 60s, even 70s, but also it's the ability to communicate with cell phones, through Facebook, through email, that was not available before," Burton said.
"Our staff is there to teach them and we want to make sure that we keep everyone focused on our business and that business is to educate our children," said Whiteker.
Whiteker said she will ensure professional student-teacher relationships are a major focus of in-service training in August and throughout the school year.