High school teacher Dale Pennington made his first appearance in court from the Polk County Jail Thursday afternoon. He’s accused of sending graphic text messages to one of his former students, a 16-year-old female.
“He’s married, he’s 36 years old and he doesn’t have any children. But he does like to do nasty things with children,” said a disgusted Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Read: Dale Pennington’s arrest affidavit WARNING: Extremely graphic!
Pennington is a history teacher and assistant soccer coach at Ridge Community High School in Haines City. The principal set a recorded message home alerting parents of the arrest early Thursday afternoon.
“I just panicked,” said parent Anjenetta Sanchious-Smith. “My kids they’re in athletics and I’m not sure if it’s someone who they are around.”
Pennington is accused of sending vulgar messages and nude images of himself to the teen, both on her cell phone and computer.
Deputies say the two talked about meeting for sex behind a nearby Publix, or even in the teacher’s hot tub at home. Deputies say Pennington texted the girl stating ‘his wife wouldn’t approve… and that makes it more exciting.’
“He thought I just played this nasty game and I got caught,” said Sheriff Judd.
Much of the other content can’t be repeated in this report, but the arrest affidavit with Pennington’s very graphic statements to the teen is attached.
When we showed a mother what was said in the messages, she was in disbelief.
“I told you this guy’s elevator does not go to the top,” said Sanchious-Smith.
Students say Pennington was arrested on campus during the school day.
“It surprises me a lot because Mr. Pennington doesn’t seem like the type of teacher that do nothing like that,” said student Tim Williams.
The school was apparently trying to keep the whole situation under wraps, directing students, and even parents, to keep quiet.
Our interview off campus with one student was interrupted by a school security officer.
But the Sheriff’s Office is working to get the word out. They worry there could be other victims and urge anyone with information on the case to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“We just want to know if he appeared overly friendly with any other kids at school,” said Sheriff Judd. “Anyone in position of authority anyone in a position of trust is our number one target when it’s alleged they violate the law.”