Former STM Coach to Appear in Court in Lafayette Monday, Accused of Attempting to Produce Child Pornography
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - A former St. Thomas More teacher and coach will be facing a judge Monday as part of a criminal investigation against him after a sexually explicit video emerged on social media last week.
Jacob De La Paz, who was a teacher and coach at STM this school year and also worked in Vermilion Parish prior to that, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) last week after a criminal complaint was filed. That complaint accused De La Paz of attempted production of child pornography.
The former coach will appear before a U.S. magistrate judge at 1 p.m. today.
According to the U.S. District Attorney's office, a criminal complaint is "merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
The case is being investigated by the HSI, as well as the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation, the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Leaked Video Leads to Firing
De La Paz was fired from STM last week after a sexually explicit video surfaced, in which he detailed a sexual fantasy he was encouraging the original recipient of the video to have. He also encouraged the intended recipient to engage in sexual activity while doing so.
However, the video was leaked online and quickly spread around social media. Multiple social media users reached out to KPEL News with a link to the posts at the time.
De La Paz had served as a math teacher and a cross country coach at STM, and according to a school Facebook photo caption originally posted in August, had begun working there just this year. However, he is reported as having been abruptly removed from the school on Wednesday and was reprimanded for inappropriate contact with a student, according to KLFY.
Rev. Michael Russo at STM sent a message to parents with an update. His message was later forwarded to KPEL News.
Dear STM Family,
Since yesterday, questions and concerns regarding STM faculty member, Mr. Jacob De La Paz, have been brought to the attention of the St. Thomas More administration. While the school is not at liberty to extensively discuss personnel matters due to legal restrictions, we can confirm that Mr. De La Paz is no longer employed by or associated with STM in any capacity as of yesterday. We can also confirm that we have no reports, evidence or reason to believe that Mr. De La Paz engaged in any type of inappropriate behavior or misconduct with any students at STM. On the contrary, by all accounts, he has been very effective as a teacher and coach with no complaints against him.
He is currently being held without bond. Following his initial appearance on Monday, the U.S. District Attorney's office, a detention hearing will be held later this week. The government will argue for De La Paz to "be held without bond pending a formal charging decision and possible presentment of the case to a federal grand jury."