Former STM Teacher Arraigned in Lafayette, Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ to Child Pornography Related Charge
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - A former teacher at St. Thomas More was arraigned in federal court Tuesday, where he pleaded "Not Guilty" to a charge of attempting to produce child pornography.
He is currently in the St. Martin Parish jail, where he has been since he was arrested by agents with the Department of Homeland Security and participated in the arraignment via Zoom.
De La Paz was indicted last week on a charge of attempted production of child pornography related to a leaked video on social media in late April. In the video, which De La Paz allegedly sent to a minor in Vermilion Parish, the former teacher and coach made graphic sexual suggestions while describing a sexual fantasy for the teen.
He was abruptly fired from STM after the video leaked. He was later arrested in Youngsville. Our original story of the indictment is below.
A former teacher and coach at St. Thomas More in Lafayette has been formally indicted by a federal grand jury weeks after it was discovered he was sexting a student at another school.
On or about the 12th day January, 2023, in the Western District of Louisiana, the defendant, JACOB DE LA PLAZ, did attempt to employ, use, persuade, entice and coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating a visual depiction of said conduct, knowing and having reason to know that the depiction would be transported or transmitted using any means or facility of interstate commerce, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 2251(a).
De La Paz was arrested earlier this month in Youngsville by agents with the Department of Homeland Security. The arrest came after a video of him describing graphic sexual fantasies to a student in Vermilion Parish leaked on social media.
In that video, De La Paz described a sexual fantasy and invited the student to engage in sexual behavior. When it leaked, it created a firestorm on social media and led to his dismissal from St. Thomas More in Lafayette.
De La Paz later appeared in court, where he was denied bail despite a plea from his father, according to KADN in Lafayette.
Conrad De La Paz took the stand informing the judge if his son was let out on bond he would supervise him. His father informed the judge that he'd make sure De La Paz stayed away from all electronics and out of sight.
Yet that still wasn't enough for the judge to rule with the defense.
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, it was abruptly removed from the school earlier this month after the video surfaced. Prosecutors and critics have also pointed to a similar incident that occurred in Arkansas, the state where De La Paz was previously employed as a teacher.
However, Arkansas education officials cleared De La Paz and he was allowed to get a license to teach in Louisiana, and he began teaching in Vermilion Parish before eventually moving to STM.