Louisiana Catholic School Teacher Jacob De la Paz Arrested for Sexual Misconduct with Child

On Behalf of | May 1, 2023 | Firm News

Jacob De la Paz Horowitz Law


Louisiana Catholic school teacher Jacob De la Paz, 33, was arrested last week by Department of Homeland Security agents after an apparent video surfaced online of him making sexually suggestive comments to a child he tutors.  The former Catholic teacher appears to be shirtless in the video.

De la Paz was a math teacher and track coach at St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the time of his arrest. Before that, he taught in Vermilion Parish schools from 2017 to 2022.

According to Rev. Michael Russo, the chancellor of St. Thomas More, De la Paz came to the school after he passed a background check, despite having been disciplined for inappropriate communications with a child he was teaching in Arkansas in 2015.  According to media reports, De la Paz allegedly “engaged in inappropriate communication/grooming” by texting extensively with the Arkansas student. The Acadiana Advocate reported De la Paz messaged the child about desiring a future relationship and asked the minor to lie about their communications in order to “protect each other,” adding that they had to be “very good actors.”

His Arkansas teaching license was initially suspended for five years, but Arkansas state officials ultimately reduced his punishment to three years of probation, a small fine, and additional professional training.  According to media reports, De la Paz was already teaching in a public school in Louisiana when he appealed the decision.

De la Paz told the Arkansas appeals board that he was embarrassed and had let down everyone involved but said the Arkansas incident taught him “what it means to strictly be there for an educational basis and to not let it get to the point where my rapport with students puts me in the situation to where I’m teetering the line between what is professional and what is not,” according to media reports.  A transcript of the proceedings is publicly available online.

Vermillion Parish officials confirmed they were aware of the incident when De la Paz was hired to teach children, but hired him because he was otherwise “eligible for employment,” according to the Associated Press.  St. Thomas More has since confirmed it too was aware of the incident at the time De la Paz was hired, and that he was “exceedingly effective as both a teacher and a coach” during his time at STM, according to a statement released after De la Paz’s arrest.

De la Paz has been charged with a federal crime of attempted production of child pornography, according to a media release from the U.S. Department of Justice.  He has been fired from his position at St. Thomas More High School according to school officials.

Horowitz Law represents victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by an employee of the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by in the Diocese of Lafayette may now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Louisiana and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 844-598-2376 to discuss your options today.