By Kathi Bliss
A Lockhart High School coach was arrested Friday on charges of having an improper relationship with a student.
Officials with the Lockhart Police Department announced during the lunchtime hour on Friday that they had arrested Lockhart High School employee Thomas Christopher Knox, 28, who is charged with having an improper relationship with a minor student.
The relationship was discovered, according to Lockhart Police Chief Mike Lummus, when the girl disclosed to her friends that she had contact with Knox outside the educational setting. The girl, whose identity has been withheld, allegedly told friends that she and Knox had exchanged nude photographs via text message.
The witnesses reported the information to Lockhart High School administrators, who later notified authorities.
Witnesses suggest the contact began earlier in this school year, when the girl, then 16, spoke to Knox about troubles she was having with her boyfriend, police said. She denies a physical aspect to the relationship.
Police executed a search warrant of Knox’s San Marcos apartment, and seized both his school and home computers, as well as his cell phone and the complainant’s. The devices have been forwarded to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) crime lab, where a forensic analysis is expected to provide more detailed information about the interaction between the two.
Police said the relationship, if it existed, was likely mutual. However, there is a possibility, because of the girl’s age and the allegations of nude pictures exchanged between the two, that Knox may face additional charges, including for possession of child pornography. The investigation will continue, police said, and additional charges, if any, will be announced at a later time.
Caldwell County District Attorney Trey Hicks said the charge of Improper Relationship Between an Educator and a Student, for which Knox was booked into Caldwell County Jail on Friday afternoon, is a second degree felony carrying a sentence of 2-20 years in prison and the possibility of an additional fine up to $10,000.
Hicks said it is unlikely the forensic examination by the DPS crime lab will be prepared in time to present the case to the November Grand Jury. He does, however, intend to pursue an indictment against Knox as soon as possible.
Knox’s bond was set by a local magistrate at $125,000.
Lockhart ISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra released a simple written statement late Friday afternoon.
“We understand the public’s interest in this matter, and want to assure the community that Lockhart ISD takes this allegation seriously,” he wrote. “In addition to the Lockhart Police Department’s investigation, the school district has been conducting its own internal investigation. Because of the nature of the allegation, state and federal law will not allow us to provide any additional information to the media at this time.”
Knox joined the district in 2009.
Anyone with information on this or similar cases is encouraged to contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401.
Follow this developing story on www.post-register.com.
**Editor’s Note: Because of the nature of this situation, and the involvement of a minor child, this article will be closed for commenting. Updates to this breaking news story will be provided as additional information becomes available. -kb**
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