Deputies: Polk County teacher arrested after having relationship with student

Man, 36, was teacher at Ridge Community High School

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DAVENPORT, Fla. - A Polk County high school teacher faces dozens of charges after allegations surfaced that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old former student, according to deputies.

Polk County deputies say 36-year-old Dale Pennington, a teacher at Ridge Community High School in Davenport has been charged with numerous felonies in the alleged relationship.

The investigation was sparked when deputies received a tip that inappropriate email and text message conversations were found between Pennington and the 16-year-old girl, who he had taught during the 2011-2012 school year. The girl is not currently his student, according to deputies.

When interviewed by deputies, Pennington said that he had been emailing and texting the student since May and that he has been communicating with her over the past five months.

Deputies described the conversations as "extremely graphic in nature," and said Pennington also sent the girl a link to an adult pornographic video.

"This type of behavior absolutely disgusts us," said Sheriff Grady Judd in a release. "When we hear these type 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 has been charged with 16 counts transmission of material harmful to a minor; 15 counts use of computer to seduce a child; 15 counts unlawful use of 2-way communication device; and 1 count traveling to meet a minor.

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