A Wharton High School teacher has been arrested for allegedly having sexual relations with a student.
Brooke Lynn Domel, 32, was booked into Wharton County Jail at 10:30 a.m. Monday and charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student, a felony charge. She remained in jail as of presstime Tuesday. Bond had not yet been set.
Domel was arrested Monday morning in the parking lot of the Wharton ISD Administration Building, 2100 N. Fulton. Law enforcement officials said Domel requested an attorney and refused to answer any questions.
Following the arrest, Wharton ISD Superintendent Kay Shoppa contacted school board members by phone and released a written statement to the news media.
“The district takes these allegations very seriously and does not tolerate the type of conduct alleged,” Shoppa said in the statement. “Student safety remains the No. 1 priority in this school system. To that end, the district is cooperating with authorities and will take any and all corrective action it deems necessary as a result of this investigation.”
Shoppa later declined to comment on how the arrest will affect Domel’s future employment with the district. Domel’s contract for the 2013-14 school year has already been renewed, despite her being placed on administrative leave prior to school letting out for the summer.
“Because it’s a personnel matter, all items associated with the employee are pending,” Shoppa told the Wharton Journal-Spectator.
Law enforcement officials in May began investigating reports of alleged misconduct on Domel’s part. The investigation was headed up by Landy Williams, the district’s police chief.
He later sought out the assistance of Wharton County Sheriff’s Dept. Sgt. Raymond Jansky and Sgt. Wally Rodriguez.
Monday’s arrest was the result of “new information” on the case, officials said.
“We re-interviewed some witnesses and interviewed new witnesses which shed more light on the case at which time we were able to develop probable cause for an arrest,” Jansky said.
Jansky said that Domel “had sex with a high school student” in 2012. Law enforcement officials have withheld the name of the male student, who graduated in June.
“It’s alleged to have occurred on more than one occasion,” the investigator added.
When asked if the alleged conduct occurred on school grounds, the investigator said no.
The case is ongoing.
“We have to do some more interviews,” Rodriguez said.
Once completed, the case will be filed with the District Attorney’s office. DA Ross Kurtz said Monday afternoon that he was aware of the charges.
“The Sheriff’s Office and Landy Williams are working the investigation and presenting evidence to our office and we’re planning on prosecuting,” Kurtz said.
Improper relationship between an educator and student is a second degree state jail felony. According to the Texas Penal Code, a school employee “commits an offense if the employee engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school at which the employee works.”
Attempts to obtain a comment from Domel’s family and attorney were unsuccessful.