Austin ISD teacher arrested for traveling to Colombia to have sex with minors

Austin ISD police

An Austin school district teacher was arrested Thursday in Round Rock for illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The teacher, Michael Roberts, 40, traveled from the U.S. to Colombia to engage in illegal sexual conduct with minors, according to an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Sept. 6 and unsealed on Thursday. He is charged with three counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and faces up to 30 years in prison on each of the three counts. His arraignment is set for Tuesday.

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A federal judge would determine any sentence after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Lora Makowski, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Texas, declined to comment further on the case.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is investigating the case, notified Austin school district police about the arrest on Thursday morning, according to a letter from Laura Stout, the district’s associate superintendent of secondary schools. The letter was sent to the parents of students at the schools where Roberts has worked since he began working at the district at the start of last school year. District police are working with Homeland Security officials in the investigation.

Roberts works at Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy and Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy, and formerly worked at Navarro Early College High School. He was placed on administrative leave, effective immediately, after the district learned of the arrest. The district did not say whether Roberts continues to be paid and did not respond to a request for comment.

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Roberts cleared the district’s background check process in July 2021, according to the district. There have been no allegations that the teacher had any inappropriate contact with students in the district, Stout wrote.

“The safety of all our students is our top priority. We know that many of our students and families will have questions and concerns,” Stout said in the letter. “Extra counseling support will be available as needed, in addition to our campus counselors and staff.”

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. The initiative combines federal, state and local resources to prosecute people exploiting children online and the rescue of victims.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: AISD teacher arrested, charged with having sex with minors in Colombia