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Victim in basketball sex case sues Hillsborough County school district for negligence

TAMPA — In 2007, Wharton High School basketball coach Jaymee Wallace was sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with one of her 15-year-old students.

Now her victim is suing the Hillsborough County School District, claiming it "should have known that Jaymee Wallace was dangerous and liable to do harm to the students." The suit, filed Monday in the Hills­borough Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages.

It alleges that the district failed to conduct a sufficient investigation before hiring the coach, and did not immediately inform the child's parents when it learned of the crime.

Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said the district doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The victim, whom the St. Petersburg Times is not naming, is currently serving in the Army. Her attorneys could not be reached for comment on the suit.

Two years ago, prosecutors laid the blame squarely upon Wallace, saying she initiated a romantic relationship after the victim, then 14, voiced confusion about her sexuality.

"I think you're attractive," she wrote in a note to the girl, whom she was coaching and teaching math. "Do you feel the same?"

Their sexual relationship lasted two years. Wallace was arrested in October 2005, after the girl told her mother about the affair.

At trial, the victim asked the court not send her former coach to jail, but her parents insisted on prison time. Wallace pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, which could have brought up to 30 years in prison.

In her lawsuit, the victim says the school district caused her "embarrassment, mental anguish and physical illness" through its failure to adequately investigate Wallace before hiring her.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Victim in basketball sex case sues Hillsborough County school district for negligence 10/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 10:30pm]
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