School officials in the Tampa Bay area are dealing with yet another sex scandal, as a 28-year old teacher is accused of having an 18-month lesbian relationship with a teenage girl.
Jaymee Wallace, a math instructor and coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team at Wharton High School in Tampa, is facing 15 years in prison if convicted on felony charges of lewd and lascivious battery.
Authorities say the student, who was 15 when she met Wallace, voluntarily had sex with the coach more than 50 times, in a parking lot at Busch Gardens and often at Wallace’s own apartment while a fellow classmate was in an adjacent room.
“There was another student who was there and was used as part of this cover-up so that this coach could have a relationship with one of her players,” Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said at a news conference.
“This woman used her position as a coach and as a trusted teacher to gain more access to the female victim. … And it is just simply inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated. And that’s why this teacher is facing a serious charge now.”
According to the police report, the sexual relationship reportedly began in early 2003, after the student received a note from Wallace saying she “found her attractive and wanted to know if she felt the same way.”
Officials are not identifying the girl, who is now 17, but say her parents are distraught.
“In this case the mother of the victim said that she simply felt betrayed,” McElroy said.
Wallace denies the allegations, telling police the relationship was “much like a mother/daughter or a big sister/little sister.”
Her attorney, Joe Bodiford, said the girl and her friends could not produce any love letters, text messages or other proof of the sexual relationship.
“This situation boils down to the credibility of the accuser,” he told the Tampa Tribune. “I don’t know what has fanned the fire of these girls’ hyperactive imaginations. There is not one scintilla of evidence to back this up.”
The alleged victim told authorities she destroyed the love letters, while others, such as her older sister, have testified to having read them.
Bodiford has filed a not guilty plea for Wallace, who surrendered herself to authorities and is now free on bail.
He believes Wallace’s case is being impacted by another high-profile case involving a Hillsborough County teacher accused of sexual relations with a student.
Debra Lafave, 25, a middle-school reading teacher at in Temple Terrace, Fla., is accused of having intercourse with a 14-year old male student in her classroom, home and car. She’s slated for trial next month.
“I don’t want Jaymee and (her husband) Craig to get swept up and get ‘Lafaved’ based upon people saying here’s another case that’s similar,” Bodiford told BayNews9.
The Hillsborough County School District has removed Wallace from her position at Wharton High, and reassigned her to an administrative job while the legal case moves forward.