A high school science teacher in San Jose, California, has been arrested on charges that he posed as a female to “catfish” underage boys on social media, police say.
Douglas Le, 25, was charged with two counts of felony child enticement, the San Jose Police Department said in a press release.
Le worked at Gilroy High School, where he was arrested last week, police said. Catfishing is when a person uses a fake identity to entice people into a relationship online.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect Le was receiving illicit images from minors who were under the belief they were involved in an on line relationship with a female persona (Le),” police said in the release.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Le Contacted More Than 500 Boys, Including Current & Former Gilroy Students, Police Say
Douglas Le was in contact with more than 500 underage boys during his catfishing scheme on Facebook, San Jose Police Sergeant Brian Spears told KSBW-TV. The minors contacted by Le, who police say was posing as a female, included many current and former Gilroy High School students, where he was a science teacher.
Le, a San Jose resident, faces two felony counts of child enticement.
“Detectives conducted follow up investigation and located evidence that Suspect Le was enticing the minors to send harmful matter via the internet,” police said in a statement. “Detectives interviewed the involved parties and determined that the above listed crimes were alleged to have been committed by suspect Le.”
The school district said it is cooperating with the investigation.
“The safety of our students is our primary concern,” Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Deborah FLores told parents in a letter, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
2. He Was Disciplined in 2014 for Sending ‘Inappropriate Texts’ to a Student, Officials Say
Le was previously disciplined in 2014 for sending “inappropriate texts” to a student, KSBW-TV reports. Details of the discipline were not made public, but he was allowed to return to the classroom.
The mother of the student who received those texts in 2014 talked to KSBW after Le’s arrest.
“I warned the Gilroy school district about this teacher over 1 1/2 years ago when he sent sexual texts to my child. I brought them proof. Did they take appropriate action? No. Could this have been prevented? You bet. More should (and) could have been done,” she told the news station.
He was hired by the school district in June 2013 and passed “all criminal background screening for employment, which includes fingerprint clearances from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” school district spokeswoman Rachel Zlotziver told the Mercury News.
The school district has said it is attempting to fire Le.
3. Le Taught AP Chemistry & Was Previously the Head Track & Field Coach at the High School
Le taught AP chemistry and biotechnology at Gilroy High School, according to his now-deleted profile on the school’s website. He was also previously the school’s head track and field coach, he said on Linkedin. His profile on that social networking site, and his Facebook page, have also been deleted.
Before being hired by Gilroy High School, Le was a student teacher at William M. Davies Jr. Career & Technical High School in Lincoln, Rhode Island, from January to May 2013. He was also a teacher intern at Breakthrough Silicon Valley from 2007 to 2010.
4. He Studied Biology at the University of California-Berkeley & Also Has a Master’s From Brown University
Le, a graduate of Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012 with a degree in chemical biology, according to his Google+ page.
He then attended Brown University, where he earned a master’s degree in secondary science education in 2013.
5. He Was Booked Into the Santa Clara County Jail & Police Are Continuing to Investigate
The case was investigated by the San Jose Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children and Child Exploit Detail task force, according to the press release from the department.
Investigators are still working to determine if Le was only seeking photos from the victims, or if he wanted to meet for sex, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact San Jose Police Detective Sergeant Brian Spears at 408-537-1381. Tips can also be made anonymously through the Crime Stopps line at 408-947-7867.
Le was arrested April 26 at Gilroy High School and later booked into the Santa Clara County Jail. It’s not clear if he was released on bail or if he remains in custody.