Plea deal and 18 months probation for teacher accused of touching boy; victim's mother unaware

Confusion during Phillip Hernandez hearing

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - There was some confusion in the courtroom Tuesday as a former Centennial High School teacher accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a 17-year-old student was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation.

Phillip Hernandez reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded no contest in October to a count of "Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor."  He was originally facing three counts of "Criminal Sexual Penetration of a Minor by School Personnel" and two counts of "Criminal Sexual Contact of a Minor by School Personnel."

On Tuesday, Judge Fernando Macias told the court Hernandez had already been sentenced during his change of plea hearing October 24, 2016. Macias said the reason for Tuesday's hearing was to decide whether the probation would be supervised or unsupervised.

Hernandez is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with a 17-year-old male student while he was a theater teacher at Centennial High School in 2013.

Court documents obtained by ABC-7 state the former theater arts teacher allegedly touched the boy's penis and forced the boy to touch his. The documents state the alleged relationship began when Hernandez started giving the boy rides to school.

When the boy began going out with a girl in his theater arts class, Hernandez reportedly became jealous and began saying negative things about the boy to other students, court documents state.

At Tuesday's hearing, the victim's mother said she had no idea Hernandez had already been sentenced. She told the judge that she was shocked and horrified with Hernandez's infatuation with her son. She said she feared he would target other young teens.

Hernandez's defense attorney said he is seeking to serve his probation in California. Judge Macias said he would not be allowed to teach students under the age of 18.

Hernandez did not speak during Tuesday's hearing.

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