Sheriff: Middle school teacher had sexual contact with student

- A Hill Gustat Middle School math teacher was arrested after an investigation showed she may have had a sexual relationship with a student, according the the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. 

Stacy Lynn Hooks, 38, is accused of sexual activity with a student. The victim was a student in one of her classes, but investigators did not specify if it was a current student.

The sheriff's office said detectives got a tip on February 15 about the alleged relationship, but the victim's mother was the first to learn about it. 

Investigators said the student’s mom was looking through her child’s phone when she recognized the teacher’s name and messages coming from her.

“The mother finally found some things that she couldn’t interpret or couldn’t get further into and came to us for help,” Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton said.

Investigators said they found inappropriate texts coming from Hooks to the student. It took three days for them to arrest her on probable cause.

In addition to teaching, Hooks was also the director of the after school program. Now authorities said they wonder if there could be other victims.

Superintendent Dr. Rodney Hollinger said, at one point over the last month, Hooks was reprimanded, after being observed eating lunch with students and sharing a drink with the victim. Her disciplinary record was otherwise spotless. 

Hooks was charged with five counts of lewd battery, three counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor by electronic device and one county of traveling to meet a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. She was placed on unpaid administrative leave from the school.

Hooks has been at Hill Gustat Middle School since 2012. She has been a teacher with Highlands County schools for 15 years and taught both elementary and middle school. 

In accordance with the law, the incidents were reported to the Department of Children and Families hotline. Hooks was booked into the Highlands County Jail under $625,000 bond. Hooks 

Anyone with additional information about the allegations against Hooks may contact Detective Orlando Esquibel at the Highlands County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit at (863) 402-7357. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477) or www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.

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