I-Team: Texts to teen girl send teacher’s aide to prison

CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found a local teacher’s aide sent to prison after trading explicit text messages and pictures with a 9th grade girl at his school, and investigators say the aide followed the path of a predator.

Angel Rivera is now serving a four-year sentence. He had worked as an aide at Cleveland’s High School for Digital Arts. Rivera is 20 years older than the girl he’d been texting.

The victim’s mother spoke out to the I-Team to sound a warning to all parents. She said, "Oh, my God. It was scary."

Cuyahoga County prosecutors say the case went along a chilling pattern investigators see again and again. Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carl Sullivan said friendly chats turned into lewd pictures, and the talk kept getting more explicit.

Sullivan said, "So this is a classic case of grooming a child for what you want."

The messages show Rivera wrote, “I don’t understand why you think parts of your self is fat." And the girl responded, “I’m uglyyy.”

Rivera also wrote, “I think I’m falling for you lol.” The girl answered with “We somehow like all the same things.”

And in another exchange, he wrote, “You’re the perfect pet. But I can go to jail or worst.” She wrote, “Nobody will find out.”

But the dirty little secret did get out.

Assistant Prosecutor Sullivan said, "And then it kind of fell of the rails where he was interested in having sex with the child. He knew he could get in trouble."

As investigators started digging into this and looking into phones, they found hundreds of pages of text messages. It didn't stop because the teacher’s aide suddenly realized it was wrong. Instead, another student knew what was going on and went to the principal. The school called police.

Cleveland Sex Crimes detectives built the criminal case with county prosecutors.

The victim’s mom hopes this cases serves as a lesson for you and your kids and not just at school. She added, "You see changes going on in their lives. You gotta talk to ‘em. Check their phones. Check their social medias and everything."

To be clear, investigators don’t believe the relationship ever got to the point of sexual contact. Rivera ended up convicted on two charges tied to the explicit pictures and messages on the phone.

He will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years.