FORT WORTH — A former high school teacher pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of having an improper relationship with students.Brandon Ashley McDaniel, 38, had been accused of having sexual relationships with five students at Sam Houston High School in Arlington. McDaniel could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.He asked a Tarrant County jury to recommend his punishment, so testimony in the sentencing phase began Monday.A 20-year-old woman who now attends Texas A&M University testified that she was 17 when McDaniel sent her text messages that grew more sex-related over time. He asked if she was a virgin, and one message asked if she touched herself, she told the jury. McDaniel also asked her if he was a bad person for wanting to kiss her. “One day in October, he kissed me,” she said. “A full-blown, on the mouth kiss.”Two days after that, they started going out after school in his maroon Dodge Durango, she said. She would take his keys and duck down low in the passenger seat and wait for him. They would have oral sex in the Durango, she testified. McDaniel told her that he had never cheated on his wife before.The next woman to testify Monday — now a 20-year-old University of Texas at Arlington student — told the jury that McDaniel said the same thing to her about never cheating on his wife.The woman called McDaniel “a laid-back teacher” who did not dress professionally. She took his English class, which she characterized as easy.They exchanged cellphone numbers after McDaniel asked her to do the lighting for a dance program, the woman said. Later, she got a text message from him while she was at work that said: “Tell me your darkest fantasy.”One day while they were in the computer lab, McDaniel started kissing her. They played truth-or-dare in text messages, the woman testified. And they had oral sex in a classroom.“He said he never cheated on his wife,” the woman said.Arlington school administrators placed McDaniel on administrative leave on Feb. 8, 2012, and he resigned in March.Both women who testified Monday said they initially did not want to take the stand. Both said their parents were not aware that they were testifying. One woman testified that she told police about having sex with McDaniel, but then recanted everything and signed a statement for McDaniel’s defense attorneys, Lex Johnston and Cynthia Fitch, saying that she did not wish to prosecute.“I thought all the parties involved had equal responsibility and it was unfair for just him to be at fault,” the woman said. Alana Minton, a Tarrant County prosecutor working on the case with Christy Jack, asked the woman if she wanted to be on the witness stand Monday.“I had put this all behind me,” she said. “This is just bringing it all back up.”Testimony resumes today in state District Judge Robb Catalano’s court.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3