BELTON — Former Salado teacher and football coach Marcos Rene Garcia, 27, was sentenced to eight years of deferred adjudication probation for having an improper relationship with a student. The sentence was handed down by Judge Fancy Jezek in the 426th District Court on Monday.

Garcia, a former first-year math teacher at Salado junior high and high school, admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to a 16-year-old female student when he entered a guilty plea June 13.

Initially, he also was charged with engaging in physically intimate behavior with the student, which resulted in Garcia’s indictment on one count of sexual assault, according to court documents.

The state chose not to pursue the sexual assault charges.

Garcia had to surrender his teaching certificate, and he is prohibited from teaching or coaching children under the age of 17.

Garcia has to pay a $2,500 fine, all court costs and attorney fees and $552 in restitution to reimburse the family for counseling sessions for the victim.

If Garcia successfully completes all the terms of his probation, the conviction will be removed from his record. However, if he fails, he could face up to the maximum penalty.

Because improper relationship with a student is a second-degree felony, it can carry a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison.

Jezek told Garcia that if he violates any of the terms of his probation, he’ll “be right back in court facing a 20-year sentence.”

In her closing arguments, Anne Jackson, assistant district attorney, asked the court for a “lengthy term” of probation.

Garcia’s attorney, Early Gray, said he believed that, because his client had no criminal record, the punishment fit the crime.

“We didn’t think it was the appropriate case for prison,” said Gray, who is based in the Bryan-College Station area. “My client has never been convicted before.”

He added that Garcia’s surrendering of his teaching certificate shouldn’t be underestimated, and that Garcia spent “all the time and money to get a master’s that he can’t use.”

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