HAINES CITY, Fla - — Police say a Haines City High School teacher and basketball coach was arrested for sexually engaging with a student on multiple occasions.
Wayne McKenzie Ricks II, 29, was arrested in Osceola County on 10 counts of custodial sexual battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 18. Officials say Ricks and the student had engaged in sexual activity dating back to at least fall, including on-campus at Haines City High School.
Police detailed the investigation in a press release:
"At school, Ricks would have the victim come to his classroom while he was alone and the two would have intercourse in a closet. Another student and friend of the victim would be present in the classroom at the time and recalled observing the two walk into the closet to have sex on about 10 occasions. Ricks would text the victim during school hours to come to his classroom and authorized passes for the victim to leave class. Ricks and the victim also spent time together off-campus dating back to at least October. Throughout the investigation, detectives were able to obtain video of what appeared to be Ricks and the victim kissing inside the classroom. The victim told detectives that sexual contact also took place inside of Ricks' vehicle."
Ricks also gave the victim gifts including shoes, clothes, and exercise equipment. The investigation was started after a family member of the victim became aware of the relationship and reported it.
"This case of grooming serves as a reminder for parents to remain vigilant about who their children are around," Chief Jim Elensky said.
Ricks, was employed as an ESE teacher and junior varsity boys' basketball coach at Haines City High School. He was hired Aug. 31, 2020 and resigned on Jan. 23, 2021. There was no previous disciplinary action in his personnel file. Polk County Public Schools confirmed that standard procedures were followed during the hiring of Ricks. The district said a criminal background check was completed and there were no convictions that made him ineligible for employment.
However, this is not the first time Ricks has been arrested, for an inappropriate relationship with a student. In 2018, he was charged with battery in Osceola County, but was later acquitted.
Police say they have overwhelming evidence against Ricks.
"I know what we have in our case and he will be found guilty in Polk County, I guarantee that,” Elensky said. "We appreciate the hard work of our detectives and the cooperation we received from Haines City High School, Polk County Schools and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office throughout the investigation. We will work diligently to make sure this predator is held responsible. If there are any additional victims or if anyone has any further information, we encourage them to contact 863-421-3636, ext. 2239."