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Man held on molestation charges is a school aide

PHARR, Texas — A man arrested after a 9-year-old girl's letter to Santa asked that he stop molesting her has worked for a local school district for 11 years, most recently as a computer lab aide at an alternative high school.

Andres Enrique Cantu, 55, was arrested Friday on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a young child and held on $100,000 bond. Cantu was scheduled for a second arraignment Tuesday afternoon on similar charges alleging he abused the girl's younger sister. He's related to both girls, police say.

Mark May, a spokesman for the McAllen Independent School District, said Cantu would have taught students "at times" as a computer lab aide at Lamar Academy but that there were "no reports, nothing to suggest that anything has occurred at school."

The district's policy is to place employees facing serious charges on administrative leave, May said. Cantu remained jailed Tuesday.

The alleged abuse occurred in the 9-year-old girl's home, in her bedroom while the rest of the house slept, according to the charging affidavit. Pharr Police spokesman Lt. Guadalupe Salinas said the girls' mother was unaware of the abuse but that the relative no longer lived in the home.

The girl submitted the letter to Santa to her teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Pharr on Thursday as part of a class assignment, said Arianna Hernandez, spokeswoman for the Pharr-Alamo-San Juan Independent School District. It was supposed to be a wish list.

But the letter asked that a relative stop touching her and her sister, according to the charging affidavit. The teacher notified a school counselor, who contacted police, Hernandez said.

The girl told a counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center of Hidalgo County that Cantu had been touching her genitals and breasts from August 2004 to February 2008, the affidavit said.

The charge is a first-degree felony that could result in as many as 99 years in prison, Salinas said.