A perverse teacher in a Florida high school routinely had sex with a 16-year-old female student while trapped in a classroom closet, according to police.
On Tuesday, the 29-year-old special education teacher and boys’ junior varsity basketball coach at Haines City High School, Wayne McKenzie Ricks II, was taken into police custody and charged with 10 counts of custodial sexual battery from incidents going back to last fall, police reported.
Ricks, a resident of Kissimmee, is facing allegations that he had the underage girl visit his classroom, where he proceeded to have intercorse with her in a closet after texting in the school and even signed off on passes for her to leave class.
“Another student and friend of the victim would be present in the classroom at the time and recalled observing the two walk into the closet to have sex on about 10 occasions,” a police statement claims.
Ricks is also said to have met up with the minor off-campus back in October. Detectives uncovered video footage of the two visiting Universal Studios in Orlando during the Halloween Horror Nights special event. There is even evidence that Ricks presented the teen with over 20 handwritten notes discussing the sordid details of their unethical relationship and signing them with a false name, according to police.
Ricks and the underage girl were said to have talked on the phone over 80 times during the course of about four weeks between December and January. He also lavished the minor with gifts which included shoes, clothing, and exercise equipment, according to police.
“This case of grooming serves as a reminder for parents to remain vigilant about who their children are around,” Haines City Police Chief James Elensky stated. “We will work diligently to make sure this predator is held responsible.”
Police opened an investigation when one of the girl’s relatives reported the relationship to police, officials said.
Ricks has worked in the school since August and made almost $41,000 per year. He handed in a resignation last Saturday, and investigators say he has never had a disciplinary action during his time with Polk County Public Schools.
District officials assured investigators they ran through all the “standard procedures” while recruiting Ricks, who was found not guilty in 2019 for allegations of sending a nude picture of himself to a student a year earlier while working with the Poinciana High School in Kissimmee.
An Osceola County jury decided that Ricks was not guilty of transmission of material harmful to minors by electronic device or equipment by a school authority figure after he denied the charges, according to a June 2019 report in the Orlando Sentinel.
In addition, he was found not guilty of further charges of harassing a victim, witness, or informant. A third charge of the unlawful use of a two-way communication device was not prosecuted by the court. In 2019, Ricks resigned his position only one day before being arrested, according to the outlet.
Ricks is currently being held without bail as of Thursday at the Osceola County Jail, according to online records. It is unknown at this time if he’s retained an attorney who has been granted the authority to make comments on his behalf.
“We appreciate the hard work of our detectives and the cooperation we received from Haines City High School, Polk County Schools, and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office throughout the investigation,” Chief Jim Elensky said. “If there are any additional victims or if anyone has any further information, we encourage them to contact 863-421-3636, ext. 2239.”