AUSTIN (KXAN) — A teaching assistant at LBJ Early College High School who was fired after being accused of sleeping with a female student has been identified as Stephone Mercer, 27.
According to an arrest affidavit, police learned about the allegations after another teacher’s assistant at the school came forward. The employee said on Oct. 11, the victim’s friend, another female student, told her the victim had sex with Mercer in his truck.
A search of both the victim’s and Mercer’s cellphone records showed “a large amount of text messages” between the two. The victim told police she met Mercer when she started running track as a junior, and she initially thought he was a senior or someone who just graduated.
The victim said her relationship with Mercer grew as the two confided in each other about various personal topics. In numerous text messages, the victim told Mercer she loved him, according to the affidavit. When detectives spoke to Mercer, he said the relationship was consensual.
The Austin Independent School District said Mercer was placed on administrative leave immediately after the district was notified of the allegations and was fired on Oct. 30. The district has reported the incident to the Texas Education Agency.
Mercer was booked into the Travis County Jail earlier this week and bonded out on Nov. 7. He is charged with improper relationship with a student.
During the fiscal year 2015 to 2016, the TEA reported 222 cases of alleged inappropriate relationships, which was the highest the agency has seen since tracking started in 2009. However, in fiscal year 2016 to 2017, the TEA opened 302 cases of inappropriate student-teacher relationships.