CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A former educator and coach at the Santa Rosa Independent School District (ISD) was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a child.

On Monday, Josue Cepeda, 37, entered a guilty plea to six counts of sexual assault of a child, human trafficking, and one count of improper relationship between an educator and student.

An investigation revealed the inappropriate activity began in 2018 when the female victim was a student in Cepeda’s class at Santa Rosa High School.

Cell phone data and various witnesses said this relationship turned into physical sexual activity by January 2019.

Reports about Cepeda’s behavior were first reported to the Santa Rosa ISD administration in May 2018, but according to documents, was not properly investigated by the district.

In February 2019, concerned citizens alerted the Homeland Security Investigations Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force about the incidents and an investigation began.

Cepeda was placed on administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

Santa Rosa ISD’s new superintendent, Dr. Angela Gonzalez, proved instrumental in the investigation moving forward accordingly, which county district officials say upset some school district officials.

“Dr. Gonzalez was targeted by the administrative personnel, school board members, and the community for cooperating with law enforcement and the District Attorney,” said Luis V. Saenz, Cameron County District Attorney. “These folks know who they are. If not for Dr. Gonzalez’s courage and commitment to the children of Santa Rosa, today’s plea would not have happened.”

Formal charges were brought against Cepeda in February 2020.

Following his guilty plea on Monday, Cepeda, a former law enforcement officer, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for his crimes.

Additionally, Cepeda is required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.