A teacher in Texas has invoked her own racism in a defense against charges that she fondled an African-American student in her first grade class at Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School in Humble.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Houston Chronicle, the 7-year-old girl said that 61-year-old Esther Irene Stokes sent all of the other students out of the room on March 1 and then touched her "private part" on the outside of her clothes.
“The victim said that she was in the classroom alone with the teacher and that the teacher touched her on the outside of her clothes, on what she called her ‘private part,’ her vaginal area,” Humble Police Department Detective J. Blanchard explained on Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that after failing a polygraph test, Stokes insisted to Humble police that she had not touched the girl "on any part of her body."
"She doesn’t like to even touch the black children on their hand, she shies away when they try to hug her -- she admitted to being prejudiced," Blanchard said.
The complaint stated that Stokes "doesn't like black students because she was prejudiced" and "has little to no interaction" with her accuser.
The girl also told police that she asked the teacher to stop touching her and was made to stand out in the hall without any lunch -- but Stokes also denied that.
Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School Principal Paul A. Hardin told investigators that cafeteria records showed that the girl ate breakfast but not lunch on March 1.
Stokes' attorney, Patty Maginnis, said that any racist comments made by here client were "not proof that any crime has been committed."
"I would consider that just a personal opinion," the lawyer noted. "The facts of the case will determine that she is innocent."
Stokes was fired on Tuesday, according to charter holder Miracle Educational Systems, which operates the school.
"The employee involved was immediately placed on administrative leave as soon as the complaint was received, and the matter was investigated," a statement said. "As a result of the Academy’s investigation, the staff member in question has been terminated."
Stokes is free on $10,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on May 21.