The Dallas Examiner
Still shaken from recently finding out that her high school boyfriend was actually an adult posing as a teenager, the 14-year-old Angel struggled to find her words.
“I’m … you know … I’m dealing with it,” she expressed. “It’s frustrating because it’s like something that doesn’t happen. Well, I’ve never seen it happen. So, it was kind of weird and scary. I’m just going through it the best I can.”
She said her family has been very supportive, especially her mother.
Due to her age, Angel and her mother, Mia, have been given pseudonyms.
At such a young age, Angel was still not allowed to date, according to her mother, who had no idea she had been involved with Rashaun Sidney Robinson since the beginning of the year. After Mia learned about Angel’s boyfriend, she insisted on talking to him. Mia still didn’t like the idea of her daughter dating someone three years older, but she said Angel was charmed by the star basketball student. She also continued talking to her daughter about dating, values and what to look for in a man.
However, Mia realized the situation was worse than she imagined when detectives arrived at her workplace May 14, identifying 17-year-old Robinson as 25-year-old Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley. She and the detectives met Angel at Hillcrest High School, where Angel and her boyfriend were enrolled. They showed Angel a Facebook page of Gilstrap-Portley with photograph of him, his girlfriend whom he lived with, and their baby.
“She recognized the girlfriend because she would come to the school, pretending to be his sister. And she recognized the baby as well because she would bring the baby to school, saying that was his nephew.”
Gilstrap-Portley was arrested earlier this month on charges of tampering with government documents and bonded out May 15. He is also being investigated for dating a minor, which could lead to charges ranging from improper relationship with a minor to statutory rape.
As the investigation began to unravel, Angel confessed that she and Gilstrap-Portley had kissed and fondled each other. Her mother arranged for her to receive a full physical evaluation.
“We took her to the physician just to make sure she was OK. We tested her for STDs to see if there was anything sexual, but you really can’t tell if they had sex or not,” Mia revealed. “We’re still filing sexual assault, based on the detectives it is still a felony because they did touch private parts… he touched her, she touched him, but there was no actual physical sex.”
The mother further explained that the described behavior might be normal for most teenagers. But it becomes a different situation when one of the teens is actually an adult.
“She had no idea he was 25. He deceived her,” she continued. “Deception is major in this because it can be impactful for her later in life, as she grows and begins to date and that is more of the biggest piece that we struggle with mentally, how she begins to understand this and how she grows with this.”
Angel also began counseling to help her cope with the traumatic revelation.
“I think right now she is confused. And I think the counseling is going to be helpful,” the mother stated with concern. “I think she also misses school. I decided not to let her go back because kids are talking and some of them are saying she should have known that he was older – you know, just little things that I think would agitate her. And some of the kids, of course they want to support her. She’s a cheerleader and they have been really supportive – sending her messages and talking to her. But then, you know how teenage chatter is.”
Unraveling the truth
The Dallas Examiner first heard about the incident when a publisher and minister called the newsroom after hearing Gilstrap-Portley was out on bail. He identified himself as a relative of the young girl and wanted to get to the truth and be sure it wasn’t hidden from the public – since Gilstrap-Portley had been arrested several days ago and recently released at that time, and information had not been released to the students’ parents or school district’s board. He stated that he had talked to Dallas ISD officials and indicated that he was not satisfied with the response he received.
The relative said he then called an African American news anchor, African American news reporter with a mainstream newspaper and The Dallas Examiner – because he wanted to be sure to reach out to a Black newspaper as well.
The Dallas Examiner immediately called a Dallas ISD trustee, who was unaware of the incident and arrest. Robyn Harris, Dallas ISD director of news and information, was later contacted for more information.
The news quickly traveled through various news sources and social media.
“We actually found out through another coach at North Mesquite High School who actually saw him at a local basketball tournament – not related to Dallas ISD but it was comparable to a AAU or select basketball tournament that was happening around town,” Harris explained.
She said Gilstrap-Portley told the coach he was playing in the youth tournament and indicated he was playing for Hillcrest, as well. The coach then reported him to one of the coaches at Hillcrest.
“He basically said ‘Hey, I believe one of your players is one of my former players who graduated sometime ago,’” she continued. “So they immediately contacted our Dallas ISD Police Department and administrator on that Monday – this happened over a weekend…”
The district began an investigation to obtain an understanding of the situation, according to Harris. The district ascertained that Gilstrap-Portley had previously enrolled in Skyline High School as a Hurricane Harvey evacuee who had lost everything when the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast at the beginning of the school year. He later left and enrolled in Hillcrest as a homeless student.
Harris explained that the school district opened its doors to hurricane evacuees who had made their way to the city, in order to give the young evacuees a sense of normalcy.
“And we just basically said, ‘Come as you are and will fill in the pieces later.’ And so that’s what happened as he in enrolled in to Skyline High School, suggesting he was a hurricane evacuee and didn’t have any sort of major paperwork because it had been lost and flooded and did not have access to it.”
She also explained that the state’s McKinney–Vento Act allowed for homeless students to attend public schools under more relaxed enrollment standards, if the student did not have access to his or her identification, address verification, previous school transcripts and such.
“The law is really designed to help those who are most in need and not allow for that process to be any more cumbersome because they don’t have those things,” she continued. “The district is currently reviewing internal policies to avoid this type of incident from reoccurring. She did not anticipate that a report of a revised policy would be given to the board of trustees this month, but possibly over the summer for the upcoming school year.”
Along with school policy, the district has to address Hillcrest’s adult basketball player who competed against teenage players during Dallas ISD games.
“We have self-reported it to the University Interscholastic League and are currently working with them to provide any of the information that they are requesting to see what kind of action will take place, if anything, as a result of what happened,” Harris explained. “We are anticipating something but I’m not certain. So we’re just waiting and working alongside UIL with regard to that.”
A clear motive for the deception is still unknown. While Dallas ISD speculated that he might have been desperate to relive his glory days as a high school basketball player, Angel’s family is concerned that sex trafficking could be a possible motive.
“We talked about a number of things,” Mia said. “I know that human trafficking is a big deal these days. Of course, I don’t know that that’s it, but it’s weird that the girlfriend was involved in this. I don’t know many women that would go along with their boyfriend being around schoolgirls. He communicated with her – I mean, looking at her text messages – at night. So I’m not sure what his motive could have actually been.”
Meanwhile, Harris was adamant that the incident was not a common occurrence and, along with Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and Hillcrest Principal Chris Bayer, extended an apology for the incident.
“We extend our deepest apologies that something like this slip through the cracks, if you will,” she offered. “It is definitely something that is not acceptable. It’s not something that should ever happen. And that’s why we are doing what we need to do to make sure this does not happen again … to ensure that we have a safe school environment for all kids in Dallas ISD.