Trial set for Santa Rosa teacher; Cepeda charged with having sex with 16-year-old student

Isaac Flores, left,, and Josue Cepeda. Courtesy photo

BROWNSVILLE — A judge yesterday ordered a trial for a former Santa Rosa teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Associate Judge Louis Sorola set an Aug. 5 jury trial for Josue Cepeda, 35, a former teacher and coach at Santa Rosa High School.

Cepeda, represented by attorney Ed Stapleton, waived an arraignment on seven counts of second-degree felony charges during the hearing in the 103rd state District court.

Last month, Sorola charged Cepeda with one count of improper relationship between an educator and student and six counts of sexual assault of a child.

During that hearing, Sorola ordered Cepeda be held on $525,000 bond, setting bail at $75,000 per count.

On May 22, a Cameron County grand jury indicted Cepeda on the seven counts.

Authorities based much of their case on affidavits from a former 16-year-student who testified she and Cepeda, who taught her criminal justice and principals of law, had sex about five times from January to about March at the Texas Inn in La Feria.

In a related case, state District Judge Gloria Rincones has set a June 26 arraignment for Isaac Ruben Flores, 24, another former Santa Rosa coach accused of having a sexual relationship with another 16-year-old student.

In an affidavit, the girl testified she and Flores had sex twice at his home in November or December 2018 to early 2019.

The girl also testified Flores smoked marijuana with her and three other girls, including the girl who accused Cepeda of having a sexual relationship with her.

In May, Flores was charged with one count of improper relationship between an educator and student, two counts of sexual assault of a child and four counts of delivery of a controlled substance, or marijuana.

All charges are second-degree felonies carrying as much as two to 22 years in state prison.

Cepeda and Flores are being held in the Cameron County Jail.

Investigation

In February, the District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force received telephone tips regarding allegations Cepeda and Flores were having improper relationships with students, Victoria Cisneros, spokeswoman for the District Attorneys Office, stated last month.

Late last month, Cisneros confirmed local, state and federal authorities are trying to identify individuals involved in those alleged incidents while investigating whether they were covered up.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, school district officials failed to respond to reports that Cepeda and Flores were allegedly having relationships with students in May 2018.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com