LONGVIEW – A former Longview teacher has been sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child. Robert Craig Varnell, 57, of Holly Lake Ranch, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Friday in 124th State District Court in Longview.. When arrested, Varnell was a high school science teacher and one of the district’s University Interscholastic League coordinators. Varnell started working for Longview ISD in fall 2009 and was in his second year as a teacher. Prior to working for Longview ISD, he taught at LeTourneau University. He resigned from his Longview job following his arrest in May of 2011.
In October of 2012, Varnell was back in jail after prosecutors presented evidence he violated terms of his bond by contacting a former student, the alleged victim of sexual assault. He is said to have contacted the victim by email. According to court documents filed at the time of Varnell’s indictment, a 16-year-old boy told authorities Varnell had inappropriate physical contact with him numerous times from 2007 to 2011. The alleged contact detailed in the court documents first occurred at a computer lab at LeTourneau University, where Varnell was employed, when the boy was 13. Later incidents allegedly occurred in the victim’s classroom at Foster Middle School, in Dallas, in Austin, at the boy’s residence, and at Holly Lake Ranch.