Former Palacios teacher, coach sentenced

Dillon Gaffney

A former Palacios ISD soccer coach and teacher charged with multiple counts of sexual assault of a child and improper relationships with students pled guilty Thursday and sentenced to eight years in prison.

The guilty plea was made at a pre-trial conference in the 130th District Court. Trial was originally scheduled for May 29. 

Gaffney received three charges for improper relationship with a student and three charges of sexual assault of a child (under 17). The improper relationship charges each carry an eight-year sentence but will be served at one time. The sexual assault offenses will require that Gaffney register as a sex offender. He must also pay a $10,000 fine.

Gaffney was originally arrested in June 2017 by the Huntsville Police Department after a warrant was issued in Matagorda County. He was formally indicted by a grand jury Nov. 13. 

He was arrested a second time Aug. 2 in Palacios on two additional charges of improper relationship between an educator and student and three counts of sexual assault of a child after more victims came forward.

Gaffney was an assistant coach in Palacios ISD from June 2015 to August 2016 until leaving to become a head soccer coach in Huntsville.

Gaffney was originally jailed with $375,000 worth of bonds and a U.S. Immigration hold with no bond. U.S. immigration law requires immigrants convicted of certain crimes be detained without the possibility of being released on bond. In general, serious crimes involving firearms, drugs, or “crimes involving moral turpitude” lead to mandatory detention. 

For that determination to be made, it does not matter whether the detainee was found guilty by a judge, jury or whether he accepted a plea, according to U.S. Immigration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Gaffney is a native of Kildare, Ireland.

Gaffney had just completed his first year as head coach of the girl’s soccer team at Huntsville High School when he was arrested. However, the improper relationships occurred while assistant head soccer coach in Palacios.

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