BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A high school teacher has been indicted by an Ascension Parish Grand Jury on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The investigation began on Oct. 18 when deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office received a complaint that a teacher at Dutchtown High was behaving inappropriately with students. During the course of an extensive investigation, detectives learned that Mark Ebarb, 32, was engaged in the sharing of inappropriate messages and photographs with multiple students.
Ebarb was arrested and booked into the Ascension Parish Jail after turning himself in on Dec. 4.
Ascension Parish School Superintendent David Alexander released the following statement:
“Whenever there is suspected inappropriate interactions between an employee and a student, we report it to law enforcement, as required, and conduct an internal investigation. We are committed to the safety of our students and expect all staff to adhere to the highest ethical practices and conduct.”
A spokesperson for the school district says that Ebarb is currently still employed while the investigation continues, but officials will be working with their legal team to follow appropriate policy and law on the next steps.
The Diocese of Baton Rouge also released a statement about Ebarb’s arrest, saying he served for several years as a lector and Eucharistic minister at Christ the King Parish in Baton Rouge, as well as worked at the SJP/STA Summer Camp. The following letter was sent to parents of students at St. Theresa Middle and St. John Primary schools in Gonzales:
According to media reports, Mr. Mark Ebarb has been indicted by an Ascension Parish Grand Jury on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile. The media also reported that Mr. Ebarb is a teacher at Dutchtown High School and has been removed from the campus.
Mr. Ebarb worked for the St. John Primary/St. Theresa Middle Summer Camp for several years, no later than the summer of 2016. Before working for the SJP/STA Summer Camp, Mr. Ebarb successfully completed a state police background check, a requirement of the Diocese of Baton Rouge prior to being employed by the camp. There is no record of any questionable behavior, either while he was employed or after he was employed, by the SJP/STA Summer Camp.
Parents of children who attended St. John Primary/St. Theresa Middle Summer Camp are being notified of this matter, as are parents of children at St. Theresa Middle and St. John Primary.
Anyone knowing or suspecting child abuse should report this immediately to law enforcement or to the Department of Children and Family Services at 855-452-5437. Any allegation of child or vulnerable adult sexual abuse involving clergy or a representative of the church should then be reported to Amy Cordon, the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 225-242-0250.
God bless you,
Mrs. Christine D. Musso
St. Theresa Middle Principal
Back in 2014, Ebarb was recognized by the school system as High School Teacher of the Year for Ascension Parish. He also won in a regional competition and went on to the state level for competition. As a state finalist, he received a medal.