A 36-year-old teacher at a Polk County high school who was charged Thursday with exchanging sexual texts and emails with one of his former students will appear in court today, deputies said.
Dale Pennington, of Haines City, faces several charges after deputies say the Ridge Community High School teacher confessed that he has been emailing and texting the girl, 16, since May.
The girl is not a student at the Davenport school this year but the communication started when she was in Pennington's class during the 2011-2012 school year, deputies said.
Deputies began investigating after a source reported finding inappropriate texts and emails that were extremely graphic. Pennington also sent the girl a link to a pornographic video, deputies said.
"This type of behavior absolutely disgusts us," said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. "When we hear these types of allegations against anyone who is placed in a position of trust and authority, we immediately investigate to determine whether or not the allegations are true. In this case, Dale Pennington abused his position of trust in an attempt to seduce a 16-year-old child, and now he is in jail where he belongs."
Pennington is charged with 16 counts of transmitting material harmful to a minor, 15 counts of using a computer to seduce a child, 15 counts of unlawful use of a two-way communication device and one count of traveling to meet a minor.