| 2 years ago||class of '07 - away - #1|
Humble first-grader says teacher sent kids out, fondled her - Houston Chronicle
A first-grade teacher at an Humble prep school cited her racial prejudice against black students in denying allegations that she fondled a girl in her classroom last month, according to court records.
Esther Irene Stokes, 61, of Montgomery, was charged with indecency with a child April 10, court records show.
The 7-year-old student told police that Stokes, her teacher at Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School, sent all the students out of the classroom and touched her on her "private part" on the outside of her clothes on March 1, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.
Humble police met with Stokes after she failed a polygraph examination. Stokes denied touching the girl "on any part of her body," prosecutors said.
"The defendant stated that she doesn't like black students because she was prejudiced," the complaint states. She told police that "she does not like the complainant" and has "very little to no interaction" with her.
The girl told Stokes to stop touching her at which time the defendant told her to get out of the classroom, according to court records. The teacher "made her stand outside of the classroom in the hallway and refused to allow her to eat lunch and take a test," records state.
Stokes denied ever being alone with the girl or not allowing her to eat lunch, the complaint states.
Paul A. Hardin, principal of the academy at 600 Charles St., told investigators that a cafeteria printout showed that the girl ate breakfast March 1 but did not eat lunch that day.
Stokes was arrested April 10 and released the following day from the Harris County Jail after posting $10,000 bail.
Conroe attorney Patty Maginnis said that Stokes was innocent "based on the facts that we know" that include school records and surveillance footage in the school hallway.
Maginnis said the child gave a different date for the alleged offense - about two weeks later than the date listed on the offense report. "The March 1 date was determined by the detective after the detective reviewed the school records," she said.
Maginnis said she has not confirmed that her client made racist comments about the child.
"However, if the comments were in fact made," she said, "they are not proof that any crime has been committed by my client. I would consider that just a personal opinion. The facts of the case will determine that she is innocent."
Stokes was fired after an investigation by charter school officials, according to a news release Tuesday from Miracle Education Systems, which operates the academy. Stokes had been placed on administrative leave after her arrest.