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Florida special ed teacher accused of having sex with student in classroom closet



HAINES CITY — A Florida high school teacher was arrested Tuesday and charged with having sex with a student on multiple occasions.

Wayne McKenzie Ricks II, 29, was arrested in Osceola County on 10 counts of sexual battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 18. He is accused of having sex with the student since the fall, including on the campus of Haines City High School, where he worked.

“This case of grooming serves as a reminder for parents to remain vigilant about who their children are around,” Police Chief Jim Elensky said.

According to police, Ricks, a special education teacher and junior varsity basketball coach, would have the student come to his classroom while he was alone and the two would have sex in a closet. A student and friend of the victim was reportedly present in the classroom at the time and told police the two did this on 10 occasions.

Ricks and the victim allegedly spent time together off-campus as well, meeting since at least October, police said.

The police department said detectives obtained video of what appeared to be Ricks and the student kissing inside the classroom. Another video reportedly showed the two together at Universal Studios in October. They were also seen at a youth basketball game in Sebring in early January.

Police said Ricks had contact with the student via text and social media, and provided more than 20 handwritten notes detailing their relationship, signed by Ricks under an alias.

Additionally, more than 80 phone calls were made between the two in less than a month’s span between December and January, police said. Ricks also allegedly gave the victim gifts such as shoes, clothes and exercise equipment.

The investigation began after a family member of the victim learned of their relationship and reported it.

Ricks was hired by the school on Aug. 31, 2020, and resigned on Jan. 23, 2021. He had no prior disciplinary action on his school file.

Ricks was arrested at a family member’s home Tuesday night and transported to the Osceola County Jail.