FORT WALTON BEACH — A former Ruckel Middle School teacher who was arrested in February for having sex with a student has pleaded no contest to charges brought against her and will serve 15 years in prison.
Hayley Morgan Close, 35, who also goes by Hayley Hallmark, will additionally serve 15 years of sex offender probation following her incarceration, according to Assistant State Attorney Christine Bosau, who prosecuted the case.
Morgan Close agreed to the terms of the deal Tuesday. She will be formally sentenced on Jan. 18, Bosau said.
The former educator and soccer coach was originally charged with lewd and lascivious battery of a child between the ages of 12 and 16, sexual assault on a minor and engaging in lewd conduct with a student while acting in a position of authority.
New charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a child and sexual assault on a minor were added in March when it was learned Morgan Close had engaged in a sexual encounter with the victim while the two were attending a school dance team event in Osceola County.
According to her arrest report, the sexual relationship between teacher/coach and student lasted for about three years, from 2017 to 2020. During that time Morgan Close was coaching the Ruckel dance team as well as the soccer team.
Bosau said the events from which the second set of charges stemmed took place during the same time frame that sexual encounters were occurring in Okaloosa County.
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The original arrest report states the relationship grew out of text exchanges that occurred when Morgan Close was the girl's soccer coach at Ruckel during the 2017-18 school year.
The victim told Okaloosa County sheriff's investigators that the texting turned to "sexting" after she had moved on to high school in August 2018. It also became physical at about the same time.
"Numerous sexual acts" happened at Ruckel Middle School when the victim, then a high schooler, was assisting Morgan Close with sports activities at the campus, the arrest report said.
This article originally appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Former Ruckel Middle soccer coach gets 15 years for sex with a student