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Lennard High English teacher had sex with student, 17, deputies say

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County teacher resigned Friday after she was arrested and charged with having sex with one of her students.

Caroline Lawson, a 29-year-old English teacher at Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin, had consensual sex with the 17-year-old boy at her Tampa apartment about 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrest report.

Later that evening, Lawson sent a series of text messages to a third party saying she cheated on someone "with a student," the report states.

The third party asked: "When you say cheated, do you mean slept with?"

"Yes," Lawson replied.

The student later gave investigators a detailed account of the encounter and identified Lawson as his English teacher at Lennard.

Lawson declined to provide a statement but did admit she sent the text messages, the report says.

She was arrested early Friday on two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

The charge was enhanced to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. She was being held in the Hillsborough County jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Lawson had been employed with the district since 2014, a spokeswoman said.

"We are deeply disappointed by these charges," district officials said in a statement.

"The safety of our students is our top priority. We are working with law enforcement as they investigate."

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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