HOUSTON — A judge set bond at $100,000 Friday morning for a North Texas school superintendent arrested in a Houston undercover sex sting involving an "underage girl."
Michael Stevens, 47, remains in the Harris County Jail on a charge of online solicitation of a minor.
During his hearing, prosecutors released graphic details of his conversations with the "15-year-old girl" who was really an undercover officer.
The Itasca ISD superintendent planned to travel to Houston to have sex with the girl, according to Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen. He said Stevens sent naked photos of himself to "her" and requested naked photos and videos of "her."
During the six-month sting, investigators used an undisclosed social media app that allows users to send instant messages without requiring phone numbers or email addresses.
They said Stevens first contacted the undercover officer via the app on April 5 and asked for their age, sex and location. He told the "15-year-old" that he was a 47-year-old man who lived in Fort Worth.
The defendant asked, “Am I too old for you? So you’re OK with my age? I’m probably too old for you. I’m 47 years old,” according to court documents.
After exchanging photos, Stevens asked, “Would you date or play around, have fun with a guy that looks like me?" prosecutors said.
The defendant thought the girl in the photo looked older, but when the undercover officer insisted she was 15, he replied, "I'm OK with that."
Warning: Sexually explicit content
As the conversations continued, Stevens became bolder and more sexually explicit, according to prosecutors. They gave several examples.
- Stevens asked the "teen" how many sexual partners she'd had.
- He asked about the sexual positions she wanted to learn on multiple occasions and mentioned "doggy style" and spanking.
- In great detail and using graphic language, Stevens mentioned oral and vaginal sex several times.
- He told her he was masturbating while thinking of her and then sent photos of his penis.
- The superintendent sent several other sexually explicit, graphic images to the "15-year-old."
- He also told her to get her mother to move closer to Itasca in Waco or Fort Worth so she could skip school and have sex with him "for hours."
- During regular school hours, Stevens often told the "teen" to leave the classroom to take pictures to send to him. For example, the defendant would say, "You have to take pictures for daddy, go into a stall and take pictures."
- The defendant repeatedly referred to the "girl's" age of 15.
- At one point, he told her not to tell anyone and said, "I can get through the rest of your childhood as your little secret," according to prosecutors.
- He said he wanted to travel to Houston and get a hotel room so they could have sex. "Yes can’t wait till we meet but surely you know that I’m truly committed to eventually meeting up with you, those other ones were just talking — I’m a different guy," Stevens said, according to prosecutors.
- He said he'd consider divorcing his wife if he knew the "girl's" mother would marry him so he would have more access to the "teen."
- “We would find a way to sneak around and f***, I would just check on you in your bedroom while your mother was asleep," Stevens said.
- On May 10, the officers determined the defendant is the superintendent for Itasca ISD and that some of the sexually explicit photos and conversations occurred during regular school hours. "He was actually videotaping himself at his job, at his place of work. He apparently got very comfortable with what he was doing," Rosen said.
As recently as May 22, Stevens joined other teen groups on the app and contacted another undercover officer posing as a 16-year-old.
Stevens was arrested at work on Wednesday.
"I think he was in shock," Rosen said.
What we've learned about Michael Stevens' background
According to Rosen, Stevens was a teacher, coach, principal and assistant principal in various districts located in North Texas and the Gulf Coast.
"He doesn’t have any children, but he’s been around children his whole career," Rosen said.
Stevens was hired as Itasca ISD superintendent in March 2022 after holding the same position with Channing ISD, according to the district's website.
"The district has a great reputation and my wife and I are looking forward to getting to know everyone and becoming part of the community," Stevens said in a statement when he was hired.
He'd also been a teacher and coach in Mesquite ISD, Palacios ISD and Vernon ISD. He later became assistant principal in Vernon ISD, then secondary principal in Electra ISD.
Stevens is married to a counselor with Channing ISD, according to the Itasca ISD website.
Itasca ISD statement:
"On June 1, 2023, the District was contacted by a detective with the Harris County Sherriff’s Department. According to the detective, Superintendent Michael Stevens was taken into custody. Until more facts are confirmed, no further information can be shared. The Board of Trustees will be convening a meeting to review this matter and take appropriate action."
Itasca ISD school board members set a special meeting for June 5 at 7 a.m.
Other undercover sex sting arrests
Stevens was among seven people arrested in the sex sting, according to Rosen.
Investigators posted as teens to lure the predators into their trap.
"These predators were online surfing and looking for children," Rosen said.
"You must make it a priority to know what your children are doing online," Rosen said. "As you can see by this sting operation, there are dangerous predators out there grooming our children and can cause great harm."
The names of the other six suspects haven't been released but here's what we know about them.
- A 41-year-old man was arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor after he drove from Waco to Harris County. Officers said they found more than 40 pairs of women's underwear in his possession.
- Rosen said a FedEx worker was chatting with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl and showed up at an undercover location with a pack of condoms.
- A 23-year-old man showed up to meet a "14-year-old girl" and tried to get away when officers arrested him.
- Another man believed he was meeting up with a 16-year-old to have sex. He showed up at an undisclosed location with condoms and was arrested. He worked as a dishwasher and a cook at a coffee shop.
- A 26-year-old unemployed man was arrested after showing up at a place where he thought he was going to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.
- Another man showed up at the undercover location expecting to engage in sex acts with a 14-year-old girl. He was arrested with condoms in his pocket.
All of the suspects were booked into the Harris County Jail. Several of them posted bonds and were released.
"This is exactly why we are doing that -- is to see if there are any other victims or people that would like to come forward that may involve any of the suspects that we have arrested," Rosen said.
Anyone with information about anything related to this sting is asked to call Rosen's office at 713-755-7571. Rosen said they want to find out if any other children were targeted.
The sting was part of an Internet Crimes Against Children initiative. Several law enforcement agencies assisted in the operation:
- Humble Police Department
- Humble ISD
- Houston Police Department
- Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office
- Harris County Sheriff's Office
- Harris County District Attorney's Office
- Texas City Police Department
- Spring ISD Police Department/Emergency Management and School Safety
- Montgomery County Precinct 2 Constable
- Missouri City Police Department
- FBI - Houston
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Roman Forest Police Department
- Conroe Police Department
- Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office
- Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office