Mercedes coach arrested on allegations of improper relationship with student

Reyes

MERCEDES — Sgt. William G. Harrell Middle School coach David Reyes was arrested Tuesday and faced a charge of improper relationship between educator and student.

Reyes, 53, was arraigned on the second-degree felony charge Wednesday and had his bond set at $250,000.

Jail records indicated he was still confined Wednesday afternoon.

The sheriff’s office originally responded to a rural residence in Mercedes in reference to the improper relationship on March 18, a release from the sheriff’s office said. Deputies arrested Reyes Tuesday in Mercedes without incident. 

The release said investigators learned that Reyes allegedly gave a minor items of a sexual nature and made several verbal sexual advances while employed by the Mercedes Independent School District.

The Monitor requested Reyes’ criminal complaint, but the sheriff’s office is seeking an opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s Office, arguing the information requested exceeds the scope of information the department is allowed to release because it details an investigation into the abuse of a minor.

Justice of the Peace Jason Peña, who arraigned Reyes Wednesday, said he couldn’t provide any details on the case, but he did say he expects more allegations to surface regarding Reyes’ relationship with additional students.

 On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office asked for the public’s help.

“We encourage anyone with any information regarding this case to please come forward,” the release stated. Individuals can call the sheriff’s office at 956-383-8114 or call anonymously through the Hidalgo County Crime Stoppers Hotline at 956-668-TIPS (8477). 

School officials also remained tightlipped about the details of the investigation. 

Mercedes ISD Superintendent Carolyn Mendiola replied to a request for comment with a statement saying Reyes is no longer an employee of the district.

“All matters dealing with students and personnel at Mercedes ISD are taken seriously, with respect to privacy, and addressed in accordance with Mercedes ISD policies,” she wrote. “As of March 2021, the individual in question is no longer employed with MISD. All student and personnel matters are addressed in accordance with Mercedes ISD policies.”

Mercedes ISD Board President Oscar Hernandez said via text Tuesday that he could not discuss the arrest.

Reyes was listed as an employee on the middle school’s website, serving as a sports staff member under campus boys’ head coach Marco Gomez.

Harwell recognized Reyes as a U.S. Air Force veteran for Veterans Day last November.

The arrest follows news that trustees will consider placing Superintendent Mendiola on paid administrative leave Thursday and discuss reorganizing board leadership.

On the same day Reyes was arrested, five school board trustees refused, either emphatically or apologetically, to comment about why Mendiola is being considered for paid leave.

In December, Reyes filed a civil suit against the district, claiming anticipatory breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference with his employment contract.

In a sworn affidavit, Reyes claims he was contacted by Harrell Principal Javier De Anda on Dec. 8 regarding an alleged incident with a student. 

Reyes claims the student’s mother told De Anda that she wanted the matter dropped and did not want to pursue it, but he still requested Reyes create a letter to give his account of what might have happened on Dec. 17 — nothing, according to Reyes.

“My principal told me that once I write the letter then the matter would be closed,” he wrote. “I did not know what to write in the letter because I kept telling him that nothing inappropriate happened with any student. On that same date, I received a call from Human Resources Manager Mrs. Juanita Rodriguez that I was being placed on administrative leave. I was so confused — I had no idea what was going on.”

Reyes said he was placed on administrative leave the same day. He said on Jan. 20 he was informed by the district’s HR manager that Texas Child Protective Services and Mercedes ISD investigated the alleged incident and found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Afterward, Reyes claimed the district attempted to terminate his employment or clandestinely subvert his employment by not renewing his contract. He requested — and was granted — a temporary restraining order ordering the district to desist from directly or indirectly terminating Reyes’ employment.

“I am respectfully asking this court for help,” he wrote in February. “I cannot lose my job. I have a family to provide for and after the CPS and the District both finished their investigation they found nothing — so I don’t understand why they are still threatening my job. Please help.”


mwilson@themonitor.com