Mansfield High School softball coach Jay Harvill was arrested Thursday on suspicion of online solicitation of a minor by the attorney general’s Cyber Crimes Unit.
“Harvill initiated and conducted sexually graphic online chats with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl,” according to a statement from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office. “The ‘girl’ was actually an undercover police officer with the Cyber Crimes Unit.”
Harvill, 35, who coaches softball and volleyball and teaches world history and geography, has worked for Mansfield High School for nine years.
He was arraigned Friday morning and released from the Mansfield jail. His bond was set at $50,000, according to jail records. He has been placed on paid administrative leave by the school district.
According to the attorney general’s search warrant, Harvill sent sexually explicit instant messages while in a chat room on Yahoo Messenger in early July.
His home computers and digital media were seized by officers from the attorney general’s office Aug. 18. His school computer has not been seized, district officials said.
If convicted of the third-degree felony, Harvill faces a sentence of two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the attorney general’s office.
According to the Texas Penal Code, a person commits the offense of online solicitation of a minor when over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message knowlingly solicits a minor to meet with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact or sexual intercourse.
After his arrest, someone who identified themselves as Harvill, sent a multi-part text message to friends, former players and parents Thursday afternoon from his cellphone in which the incident is described as the “most awful experience of my life.” However, when the number on the cellphone message was called by the Mansfield News-Mirror late in the day it was Harvill’s wife, Charity, who answered.
However, the rambling text message suggests Harvill has known for some time that he was being investigated “based on a stupid, unintentional comment i typed online.”
“I am sending this to numerous people so bare (sic) with me,” the message states. “Today i was arrested for online solicitation of a minor. I want you to know three things – 1) i have never touched or made a pass at a kid, 2) nothing I said online was with the intent of solicitation – I am sure it will be blown out of proportion by the media but that is their job, 3) this has been the most awful experience of my life.”
“Most likely I will never again get to do the only two things i have ever wanted to do – teach and coach,” the message states.
Harvill did not return calls from the News-Mirror.
Richie Escovedo, spokesperson for the Mansfield school district, confirmed that Harvill has been placed on paid administrative leave for an undetermined amount of time. Escovedo also added that “at this time, there is no reason to believe that any district students were involved,” and that Harvill is not allowed on any campus in the district. The State Board of Educator Certification Professional Discipline Unit says Harvill is currently under review.
Harvill has amassed an 82-38-2 record as softball coach at Mansfield High School. The athletic department has not named a coaching replacement. A long-term substitute teacher has been installed to teach Harvill’s classes since school began Aug. 23, Escovedo said.
News-Mirror wrtier Nathaniel Jones contributed to this story.