Training Them Wrong
On Jan. 14, Andres Javier Vianes, an ROTC instructor at Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School, turned in his letter of resignation to the Fort Worth school district. His reasons for resigning, he wrote, were “personal health issues/divorce.”
In the weeks that followed his sudden departure, rumors circulated about why the retired army sergeant would leave in mid-semester from the campus where he’d worked since 2008.
One current Diamond Hill-Jarvis student, who asked not to be named, said she’d heard that the man his students called “Sarge” had cancer.
“A lot of people were talking about collecting money for him,” she said.
Sarge did not have cancer. What the married 51-year-old did have, prosecutors and others say, was an affair with one of his students, a long-running sexual relationship with a former student, and, as of Feb. 8, a criminal charge that could land him in prison. And his wife of 28 years has filed for divorce.
Less than a month after his resignation, Vianes was arrested in San Antonio on a Tarrant County warrant, on a charge of having an improper sexual relationship with a student — a Class 2 felony that carries a sentence, on conviction, of at least two years in jail. He was released on $20,000 bond the next day. According to police records and interviews for this story, Vianes’ romantic relationship with the student started in 2012, when she was 17, and the two are still together.
Vianes could not be reached for comment.
One of the saddest parts of his story is that through the years, he apparently has, in appropriate ways, helped many students, both boys and girls, find jobs and get into college.
But with at least two young women, according to interviews and text messages obtained by Fort Worth Weekly, the relationship went far beyond that. In one of the messages between Vianes and the younger student, after some graphic sexual talk, he told her he was finishing a college recommendation letter for her.
“It’s a awesome one, baby,” he wrote.
It would be another two years before the record of those texts joined with another revelation — a hotel receipt that ended up in his wife’s hands — to bust up his world. That day he sent one girlfriend a message saying he was heading north to start a new life. Instead, he was headed for San Antonio with the other young woman and, briefly, for a jail cell.
Before coming to work for the Fort Worth school district, Vianes served as a junior ROTC instructor in the Birdville and Lancaster school districts for a total of five years. Records from the Fort Worth district show he received glowing recommendation letters from former supervisors. His military record includes several commendations and promotions.
Mark Thomas, a spokesman for the Birdville school district, declined to comment for this story. He did confirm that nothing in Vianes’ record there indicated any inappropriate relationships with students.
Those who know Vianes describe him as a charismatic, caring person who goes out of his way to help people. A source close to Vianes’ family said he has stacks of letters from former students thanking him for his guidance. The source said Vianes has helped a number of poor students find their way into college, the military, or a job.
Stephanie was one of Vianes’ ROTC students at Diamond Hill-Jarvis and one of those he helped. A year after she graduated, she also began a four-year affair with him.
(None of the young women referred to in this story are quoted by name, at their own request or at the request of family members. All are being referred to by pseudonyms.)
Stephanie said she looked up to Vianes, and he helped her get into college.
“I wanted to be like him,” she said. “One of the reasons I made it to [college] was because of him. If I needed help with school, he was always there for me.”
His generosity and charisma are what attracted her to him, she said. After he worked closely with her on the college admissions process, she said, “One thing led to another.” She described the courtship as mutual.
Stephanie said that she knew Vianes was married from the start. The former army sergeant promised he would leave his wife for her — one day. “We used to talk about that,” she said. “He would tell me, ‘Be patient, it’ll happen one day.’ ”
His reason for the delays, she said, was financial. “He didn’t want to leave everything to her. He had his retirement check from the military, and he didn’t want to leave that [to his wife].”
But in 2012, she said, Vianes began to pull away, to become more distant. He told her that work was keeping him away from her. To make it up to her, he bought her a pedicure.
When they went together to the spa, however, an incident happened that would change everything. Vianes had put down his phone, and a spa worker mistakenly handed it to Stephanie instead of to Vianes. When he snatched it away from her in a panic, she began to get suspicious.
Later she checked Vianes’ e-mail (she knew his password), which contained all of his phone records, and found the texts between Vianes and another even younger woman, Ashley.
“He cheated on his wife with me, and he cheated on me with [a then-current] student of his,” Stephanie said.