A former Marshalltown high school teacher who has been accused of abusing a pupil sexually will enter a guilty plea.
When Mark Esquivel, 27, was charged and detained on June 30, 2021, he was a high school physical education teacher and coach. Sexual exploitation by a school employee is one of the felonies he is charged with.
According to court documents and a police news release, Esquivel is accused of soliciting sex from a 17-year-old student between April and June 2021 via personal, social media, and/or phone contact. The charges against Esquivel, according to the Marshalltown Police Department, were brought to their attention on June 24, 2021.
Esquivel worked for the district between August 13, 2020, and July 12, 2021, when the school board approved his resignation in lieu of termination, according to Adam Sodders, a spokesman for the Marshalltown Community School District.
Esquivel was scheduled to appear in Marshall County before Judge Adria Kester on Tuesday for a bench trial. Esquivel’s attorney announced his intention to enter a guilty plea the day before.
The plea will be heard on December 16.
Esquivel had given up his right to a jury trial.
The first of several accusations of sexual exploitation by a school employee brought against two other Marshalltown educators over the course of nearly four weeks began with his arrest and charge.
According to the authorities, the two other defendants committed suicide. According to Marshalltown Police Chief Michael Tupper, there is no connection between the crimes and the victims.
— Parent Security (@ParentSecurity) December 7, 2022
Theron Schutte, the superintendent of Marshalltown, previously informed the school board that the district would review its hiring procedures, though he added that nothing had been discovered when the three defendants were hired that might have pointed to the possibility of the alleged behavior.
Additionally, Schutte stated that the district would “leave no stone unturned as we evaluate all of our policies, practices, and procedures,” including those governing employee conduct on social media and in the workplace, as well as curriculum and programming aimed at teaching students in all grade levels how to ask for help.
All district employees received training this week from the Des Moines-based Ahlers & Cooney law firm on proper social media usage and the boundaries between students and staff, according to Sodders.
The district also mandates that all instructors complete the “Ethics for Educators” course offered by the Iowa Area Education Agencies and that all staff-student electronic exchanges occur through authorized district channels.
The district’s hiring and internal procedures have been reviewed, and staff members continue to receive additional training that is beyond what the state mandates, according to Sodders.
In order to undertake a review of the programming it offers children on how to seek help if they have a problem, the district collaborated with the Child Abuse Prevention Services Center in Marshalltown, Sodders continued.