McNeil HS coach accused of sending inappropriate photos, texts to student

Christopher Cotten
Christopher Cotten, former McNeil HS coach

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A Round Rock track coach was arrested Thursday on charges he had an inappropriate relationship with a student. McNeil High School cross country coach Christopher “Chris” Cotten was taken to the Williamson County Jail, where he remained Friday morning.

Cotten, 41, is facing charges of indecency with a child by sexual contact, improper relationship between educator and a student and distribution of harmful material to a minor. No bond had been set for Cotten when this story was written.

A 16-year-old girl, who is a student at McNeil HS, told police Cotten kissed her when he drove her home from practice in March, according to an arrest affidavit. After the physical encounter, the victim said Cotten sent her several texts with inappropriate photos via a third party texting application.

The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday another student told a school resource officer the coach was sending inappropriate texts to her friend.

“We contacted the student that she did the outcry for, that student [victim] did corroborate the fact that she got a text and the pictures, but said she had deleted them,” said Capt. Mike Gleason with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

Those pictures included Cotten, “standing in front of a mirror wearing a towel, a photograph of a nude male, whose face is not visible, with exposed genitals standing in front of what appears to be the same mirror,” according to court documents.

Court records also said, “After their first kiss that he knew what they just did was illegal, and he would go to jail if anyone found out.”  The documents said he reportedly told the victim, “to only text him using only the third party texting application, so that messages could be deleted and evidence would not be stored in the memory of their phones.”

Gleason said even though apps claim they can erase memory, they can retrieve the information and did so in this case.  Gleason said they even witnessed the coach messaging the teen.

“While we were conducting the interview, the texts started again from the coach in the interview,” said Gleason.

A spokesperson for RRISD says Cotten has been employed with the district since 2004.

The High School notified parents of Cotten’s arrest in a letter dated Friday:

April 10, 2015

Dear McNeil Parents and Guardians,

On Thursday April 9, Williamson County Sheriff’s Department arrested coach Chris Cotten for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a student. We are asking any students, parents, or staff with information regarding this situation to please contact the Sheriff’s office at 512-943-1300.

Students in Round Rock ISD are regularly provided with tips and information to help keep them safe. We encourage you to also talk with your children about personal safety. We want all children to learn how to recognize and respond to unhealthy or unsafe situations. Students who feel they are being harassed, bullied, or abused are encouraged to report their concerns to a parent, teacher, counselor, school administrator, or other trusted adult. We take seriously any concerns involving student safety and well-being, and work closely with law enforcement and child protection officials to identify and prosecute anyone found to be hurtful to children.

Round Rock ISD launched an Anonymous Alerts program earlier this year to allow students, parents, and staff the opportunity to report incidents to campus administrators through a website or mobile application. Information on that program can be found at roundrockisd.org/anonymousalerts/.

We encourage and commend all students who have the courage to speak up against issues of safety. Thank you for your trust in McNeil High School and Round Rock ISD.
Respectfully,
Courtney Acosta

 

Cotten’s arrest is the latest in a string of teachers charged with having inappropriate relationships with students. In January, a Rouse High School teacher was arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

In October, Cedar Park Cross Country Coach Timothy Sheard faced felony charges of indecency with a child by contact after police say he inappropriately touched students on his team dating back to 2003.

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