City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter began Monday night’s meeting of the Falls Church City Council by reading a forceful statement in wake of sexual abuse charges against Henderson Middle School teacher Jose Daniel Estrada, arrested last week and charged with molesting two female students. The charges have been compounded by revelations that Estrada had been removed from other teaching positions in the region and merely “counselled” to avoid situations of being alone with his students by the Henderson Middle School principal last year.
In his statement, Tarter said, “As a father of three children, I am deeply distressed to think that children in our community are ever harmed by trusted adults. Our community’s children and their families continue to be our primary focus. Falls Church is a small and in some ways a sheltered community, but no community can afford to assume it is free of the scourge of sexual abuse. We must be constantly vigilant, educate ourselves and our children, and not be afraid to discuss this important issue.”
He continued, “Our silence is not the answer to child sexual abuse…We must be willing to thoroughly examine and re-examine our practices and procedures to ensure that we always do the best by our most vulnerable citizens. The City government is in the process of doing that now. We already have safeguards in place in connection with our youth programs…We are committed to re-evaluating and strengthening these programs where opportunities for improvement are identified, which may include enhancing staff training and community outreach…We will continue to do all we can to protect our children. We owe them nothing less.”
Tarter said that as the matter of the Estrada charges “will be handled by the courts and the (Falls Church City Public) School Board, I cannot comment on it at this time.”