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King High School IB teacher accused of having sex with student

TAMPA — An English teacher at King High School had sexual contact with a 17-year-old female student in a vacant classroom, authorities said Monday.

Jeffrey Halle Jr., 32, a teacher in the International Baccalaureate program and faculty sponsor of the National Honor Society and book and poetry clubs, was held in the Hillsborough County jail without bail.

He faces a first-degree felony sexual battery charge and second-degree felony charges of traveling to meet a minor after using a computer and prohibited use of a computer service or device.

The incidents began in March, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

Halle, who is married and lives in Plant City, made plans with the girl to rendezvous in a vacant classroom after school where the pair had their first encounter, investigators said.

The girl was involved in one of the after-school activities sponsored by Halle, the Sheriff's Office said, but it was unclear Monday afternoon which one.

On July 10, more than a month after school had let out for summer break, Halle arranged through text messages with the girl to meet at her home so they could engage in sexual intercourse, the Sheriff's Office said.

When he arrived, the girl's father confronted him. Halle left.

The parents notified the Sheriff's Office, which began an investigation. King's principal was told of the investigation Wednesday.

Detectives arrested Halle on Monday afternoon at the Sheriff's Office. He has no previous criminal record in Florida, state records show.

Halle was hired by the Hillsborough school district in 2006, according to spokeswoman Linda Cobbe.

He started at Freedom High School, where he also taught English, before moving to Plant City High School, where he taught English and journalism. He began at King High in eastern Hillsborough in 2009.

"It's tremendously disappointing," Cobbe said. "Two young people, one whose career is ruined, and we don't know what kind of effect this is going to have on the girl."

Halle has been featured in several articles in the Tampa Bay Times.

He was one of the favorite teachers of Calyx Schenecker, who was a member of a Harry Potter Club that Halle sponsored.

The 16-year-old King student and her younger brother, Beau, were shot and killed last year by their mother, according to authorities. Halle spoke at a ceremony for Calyx and Beau after their deaths.

At Plant City First Baptist Church, Halle once taught guitar and drums and played in the church band, though he has not in recent months, said church administrator Steve Morris.

Halle still attends the church and was there Sunday.

"He seems like a real fine, nice guy," said Morris, who said he was shaken by the report.

"Our church leaders are deeply grieved by these things we're hearing," he said. "We grieve with his family and anyone who may have been injured in this case."

Phone messages left with Halle's wife Monday evening were not returned.

Nearly 10 Hillsborough County teachers have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors since 2004, starting with the high-profile case of Debra Lafave, a then-Greco Middle School teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student.

Most recently, Mango Elementary teacher Ethel Anderson was charged with lewd battery, and lewd and lascivious molestation with a 12-year-old boy.

One of the nation's largest districts, Hillsborough employs more than 12,000 teachers.

Researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374.

King High School IB teacher accused of having sex with student 07/16/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:16pm]
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