NewsLocal NewsIn Your ParishLafayette Parish


Former Vermilion, Lafayette educator arraigned on federal charge

U.S. Western District Courthouse
Posted at 4:02 PM, May 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-23 17:28:07-04

A former Acadiana educator accused in a federal child exploitation case was formally notified of the charges against him Tuesday.

Jacob De La Paz was indicted last week on a charge of attempted production of child pornography.

His arraignment on that charge took place Tuesday afternoon via Zoom. De La Paz, cuffed and wearing a navy prisoner's uniform, appeared via Zoom from the St. Martin Parish jail.

Also attending were the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker, journalists and a federal probation officer.

Earlier this month, the court ordered De La Paz be held without bail until his trial.

If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, with a possible maximum of 30 years, as well as fines of up to $250,000.

During the hearing, which is routine in criminal cases, his attorney Joseph Burke entered a plea of not guilty for De La Paz. That, also, is routine for an arraignment.

De La Paz was fired from his most recent teaching job, at St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, after a video surfaced showing him saying sexually explicit things to someone he said he tutors.

As KATC investigates reported, De La Paz had previously been disciplined in Arkansas for inappropriate text messages to a student.

Despite that, he was hired in Vermilion Parish, and later by St. Thomas More High School.

Arkansas authorities never suspended his teaching certificate, but Louisiana did after he was booked on a federal hold. A complaint was filed against him, and he was ordered held without bond.

According to federal court records, he was indicted on Wednesday of last week. The indictment was filed into the record on Monday.