Cops Still Looking for Student Accused of Sexual Assault

Eighteen-year-old wanted on attempted aggravated sexual assault charge after allegedly holding pair of scissors to his Reagan High School teacher's neck

Austin police are still looking for 18-year-old Nathan Manuel Mendoza, who is wanted on a charge of attempted aggravated sexual assault after he allegedly held a pair of 8-inch-long scissors to the neck of his Reagan High School teacher, Susan Straker, after school on Oct. 24. Officials say Mendoza is a registered sex offender who is on parole and living at a halfway house on Cameron Road, after serving time in a state juvenile facility for a 2002 charge of indecency with a 4-year-old in San Antonio.

According to an affidavit filed by AISD Police, Mendoza went to Straker's class during the final class period last Tuesday, to get help with a writing assignment, and stayed behind when school let out, just after 4pm. When Mendoza brought his assignment to Straker's desk, according to the affidavit, he asked if she "had ever been victimized." When Straker said no, Mendoza pulled out the pair of red-handled scissors and held them to the left side of Straker's neck, telling her that he was "going to victimize" her. "I will kill you," he allegedly said. Straker, who was seated at her desk, tried several times to stand, but Mendoza pushed her back, before asking if she would "give me anything I wanted." After Straker said she didn't have anything to give him, Mendoza allegedly asked for sex, grabbing her left breast. Straker replied, "No, that ain't happening," and successfully pushed Mendoza back and stood up; Mendoza fled and, at press time, had not yet been arrested.

The incident has raised questions about when and how AISD officials are informed that registered sex offenders, like Mendoza, are enrolled at area campuses. There are 15 registered sex offenders attending Austin public schools, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. AISD is investigating the incident, but according to district General Counsel Mel Waxler, APD notifies district officials with the names of registered offenders at the end of each month – apparently, since Mendoza enrolled at Reagan on Oct. 17, news of his presence on campus had not yet made it to AISD HQ on West Sixth.

"Unless otherwise told, we do not necessarily know about specific students who are registered sex offenders attending specific schools," Waxler wrote in a statement. When the district "knows, or has reason to believe" that there is a registered sex offender on any campus, the district investigates but is "very careful not to misidentify any student for any reason." Indeed, Waxler said the Texas Youth Commission does not inform district officials directly about the sex-offender status of any former juvenile inmate, in part, he suggests, because the agency "operates on a belief that juvenile offenders can be rehabilitated and deserve a fresh start."

Nonetheless, Waxler wrote that district staff members are working "hard to improve … policies, processes, and systems within established law to meet the needs of … students, faculty and community. We acknowledge that we have work to do still, and we count on the partnerships that we have with our parents, the community, and the State to strengthen our resolve to meet the challenges before us."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Strayhorn Says Accenture Taking Texas to Cleaners

    Comptroller releases report charging that agreement between Accenture and Health and Human Services Commission was crafted to benefit Accenture's bottom line, and that the company has already profited despite series of missteps
  • Streetcar Plans Unveiled

    Capital Metro unveiled its streetcar circulator route for Downtown and Mueller at its recent board meeting, but the agency still managed to see that announcement upstaged by a proposal to double current bus fares and a likely impending labor squabble.

    Travis Co. Has New Deputy Chief ME

    Travis Co. Commissioners announce decision to hire Dr. James A. Wilkerson IV as county's new deputy chief medical examiner

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

AISD Trustee Election Sees Highest Turnout Ever
AISD Trustee Election Sees Highest Turnout Ever
Zapata, Foster to join board; two races set for run-off

Clara Ence Morse, Nov. 6, 2020

A New Plan for Austin ISD?
A New Plan for Austin ISD?
School board elections tee up calls for change – and rebuilding broken trust

Clara Ence Morse, Oct. 16, 2020

More sexual assault
Travis County Settles With Sexual Assault Survivors
Travis County Settles With Sexual Assault Survivors
$580,000 settlement reached in three-year legal battle over handling of sexual assault cases

Sarah Marloff, June 25, 2021

Amy's Army Raises Awareness, Support for Sexual Assault Survivors
Amy's Army Raises Awareness, Support for Sexual Assault Survivors
New social media campaign calls for meaningful reform in local criminal justice system

Sarah Marloff, May 7, 2021

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


sexual assault, Reagan High School, AISD, Manuel Mendoza, assault, sex offender

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle