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The Lead July 6, 2022: Kerrville ISD faces federal civil lawsuit over sex harassment, assault

A former student is suing the district in federal court saying they retaliated and failed to protect her from 2 teachers.

Good morning, Kerr County!

If you don't like the heat — just stop reading. For those of you who enjoy warm weather, like frying an egg on a sidewalk kind, it may be pleasant and serene. The forecast looks like this 98-99-100. If you follow the Weather Channel, the forecast is brutal, with 100s all week. The National Weather Service notes that Hill Country weather is enjoyable compared to the rest of Texas: "Heat indices will remain elevated in the 102 to 107-degree range for most except in the Hill Country." Charming. However, the weather across the country is ominous — with heatwaves, powerful summer storms and other mayhem lurking.

On today's The Lead Live!

It's Wonderful Wednesday with Rachel Fitch, who will have a cornucopia of updates for us. Fitch owns Fitch Estate Sales and Gold Cup Pawn in Kerrville. In the later part of today's show, 21st Congressional District candidate Claudia Zapata, a Democrat, challenging incumbent Republican Chip Roy. Texas Hill Country Advisor Andrew Gay will give us a market update in the first element of the show.

We're still feeling good about Monday night's Robert Earl Keen concert!


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Things to do today!

Wednesday, July 6

For families

  • Storybook theater — Cailloux Theater, 10 a.m. Information: 830-257-8422 The details: Come enjoy a fun play of Storybook Theater – "Cooking Up Fun with Idioms."


  • Military Appreciation Dinner — Dietert Center, 5:30 p.m. Information: The details: Kerr County Women's Chamber would like to cordially invite you to our annual Military Appreciation Dinner. Please RSVP.

Food and Drink

  • Wild West Wine Wednesday — Museum of Western Art, 5:30 p.m. Information: The details: Fredericksburg's Alstadt Brewery will provide samples, and visitors can enjoy the latest exhibits.

Live Music

  • Longriver — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: The details: David Longoria has recorded his debut studio album as Longriver: Of Seasons, a folk-animated meditation on time, death, and whispers of transcendence.

Markets and Sales

  • Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1–3 p.m. Information: The details: Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
  • Kerr County Produce Market Day — The Big Red Barn, 10 a.m., Information: 830-896-7330 The details: Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.

Stories we're paying attention to across Texas

Your electric bill is high because . . .

The New York Post says Texas counties need relief

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin is mad about the investigation

Gov. Abbott is going to give away some money

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he will give $20,000 grants to businesses and groups negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but only in the travel and tourism sector.

The Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism today announced the opening of applications for the Texas Travel Industry Recovery Grant Program (TTIR). The money is coming from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That means $180 million in federal funds earmarked for travel.

"Travel and tourism is a critical component to both the state and local economies," Gov. Abbott said. "Visitor spending at Texas destinations brings new money into communities and spurs local job creation across industries in every region of the state. After a decade of record expansion where 1 in 10 Texas jobs were supported by tourism, the travel industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic. While direct travel spending in Texas is recovering at a faster rate than national averages, allocating these grant funds paves the way for a more prosperous, brighter future for all Texas communities."

The Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism will host a series of webinars for specific industry groups to provide more information and answer questions on the application process and the TTIR program:

  • Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries, Travel Arrangement & Reservation Services, Convention & Trade Show Organizers, and RV Parks & Recreational Camps Webinar – Tuesday, July 12, 1-2 p.m.
  • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Webinar – Thursday, July 21, 1-2 p.m.
  • Traveler Accommodation Webinar – Thursday, August 11, 1-2 p.m.
  • Food Services and Drinking Places Webinar – Thursday, Sept. 1, 1-2 p.m.

To register for the webinars and eligibility and grant application details, deadlines, and more, visit:

COVID-19 continues its lurking, sulking presence here

In the last week, Kerr County reached a milestone with more than 10,000 people testing positive for COVID-19. It's a baseline number because it's probably much higher than the Texas Department of State Health Services reports. It's explainable because access to at-home tests doesn't require reporting to the state — it's suggested.

However, the virus is very much here in Kerr County. Peterson Regional Medical Center's reports to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirm hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Through June 24, Peterson averaged four people hospitalized with the virus. Except for two weeks — one in April and another in March — Peterson has always had at least one person hospitalized.

Across Texas, the hospitalization data is the best measure of COVID-19's impact. On Tuesday, hospitalizations reached 2,600, including 130 children. The numbers are the largest since early March.

Former student says Kerrville ISD failed to protect her

A former Tivy High School student's federal lawsuit against the Kerrville Independent School District is inching its way toward a 2023 trial date, according to court records.

The plaintiff, now an adult, claims school and district officials ignored complaints that she suffered sexual harassment by an ROTC instructor and a sexual assault by another teacher in late 2017.

The plaintiff, only listed as Jane Doe because she's a victim of sexual assault, said math teacher Aaron Chatagnier sexually abused her after he became aware of Air Force Jr. ROTC Lt. Col. Christopher K. Edwards' harassment. Doe said Chatagnier was supposed to console her after allegations against Edwards led to his 2017 resignation but that he took advantage of her by sexually assaulting her.

Chatagnier received four felony indictments in 2021 over the relationship and is still awaiting trial. Edwards never faced charges.

In the lawsuit filed in the Western Texas District Court in April 2021, Doe alleges that Edwards showed interest in her during her sophomore year. The instructor would send her messages, talk to her on the phone and send emails from KISD accounts. Much of the conversation centered around sex, and during a school trip, she alleged Edwards touched her vagina.

During this period, Doe said it became apparent to teachers and students that there was an inappropriate relationship between Edwards and the student, leading to further harassment from her peers. Doe said another ROTC staff member warned Edwards about his behavior, as did another teacher, but didn't pass those concerns to school administrators.

In May 2017, an incident involving glue and other students led Edwards to disclose to school officials that there was a suggestion of an inappropriate relationship. Doe said school officials never followed up until she confided in another ROTC instructor about the barrage of emails, messages and touching. The ROTC instructor reported it to Principal Shelby Balser in September 2017.

However, Doe said things escalated after Edwards left Tivy and her peers relentlessly harassed her about the relationship. The pattern, according to Doe, got worse once Chatagnier became involved. Doe alleges school officials told her to quit ROTC, while her classmates said she raped the teacher and should die.

In 2018, Doe said she felt pressured to leave the school. The suit alleges they decided that Doe no longer fit at Tivy and sent her to the district's continuation high school.

Doe's attorneys filed the case in federal court because they allege KISD committed violations of her federal Title IX rights, which prohibits sex-based discrimination. Doe is alleging multiple counts of discrimination based on the district's actions.

Both sides are working through a court-ordered process to be ready for a 2023 jury trial presided by Judge Xavier Rodriguez — the same federal judge overseeing a case between former Mayoral candidate Brent Bates and the city of Kerrville.

Kerrville's Jan. 6 participant faces conference on sentencing

After a sentencing delay, Kerrville's Elizabeth Rose Williams faces a status conference Friday with a federal judge about how much time she could receive in federal prison.

Williams plead guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building in January. The maximum sentence is six months in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine. However, two points come into play in this case:

  • The plea agreement says the Judge doesn't have to follow the sentencing guidelines.
  • However, most defendants accepting similar deals received one month in prison, probation and a $500 fine.

Williams is an accomplished singer and recently starred in a musical at the Cailloux Theater earlier this year.

The Big 12 could get BIGGER

Now that USC and UCLA have bolted the Pac-12 Conference for the Big 10, the Big 12 is considering a radical re-alignment to expand the conference in the aftermath of the college football earthquake released last week. There are two scenarios where four to six universities would join the Big 12. The most interesting one would divide the conference into four four-university pods. One Twitter example had it like this:

  • Pod 1: Arizona, Arizona State, Brigham Young and Utah.
  • Pod 2: Colorado, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas.
  • Pod 3: Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian.
  • Pod 4: Cincinnati, Central Florida, Iowa State and West Virginia.

CBS Sports reports that the Big 12 could take six teams from the Pac 12, collapsing the storied conference. CBS says Oregon and Washington could be in the mix.

Of course, all of this is from the leaks to the Southeastern Conference — thank you very much, Oklahoma and Texas.

However, for longtime college football fans, the landscape is about to become very different. In what was once the Power Five conferences, the real power will rest in two conferences, the Big 10 and SEC.

And don't be surprised if this trickles down to small universities like Schreiner, an NCAA Division III member. As the big conferences crush the NCAA over the money from football and basketball, what does that mean for the rest of the universities? We will probably find out in a hurry.


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