A Florida middle school teacher is facing charges for allegedly coercing a former student to have sex with him in a classroom closet, authorities said.
Daniel Heath Norment, 41, who taught at Independence Middle School in Jupiter for six years, was arrested Tuesday for the alleged illegal sex act with a 16-year-old former student two years ago, WPEC reported.
Norment’s accuser went to authorities in March — detailing a light-colored couch inside his classroom’s oversize closet where she claims he led her “by the hand” prior to the alleged attack, according to an arrest report obtained by the station.
The 18-year-old girl, now in college, said she was coerced by Norment during the same timeframe as the former girls’ basketball coach allowed players to change clothes inside his classroom after school.
At the time, Norment told the girl she was “different and mature for her age” and gave her “good grades for doing nothing,” the arrest report indicates.
The girl, who exchanged phone numbers with Norment upon graduating, later returned to visit him at Independence while in 10th or 11th grade to help with paperwork and clean the classroom before their relationship took a physical turn, the arrest report states.
“He would hug, rub her back and shoulders, and pick her up and spin her around off her feet while kissing her on the cheek,” a Jupiter police officer wrote in the report. “[The girl] did not think anything about the affection and liked the attention.”
Norment then started rubbing the teen’s breasts and backside while claiming he was “falling in love” with her, according to the arrest report.
But Norment soon became “more aggressive and passionate” while taking her into the classroom closet, Jupiter police wrote in the report.
“[The victim] told me that Norment used her and realized it was wrong from him and her to have sex at his school,” an officer wrote. “She stated she stopped talking to Norment altogether and [has] never heard from him since the sexual battery.”
Norment, who has been charged with unlawful sexual activity and sex offense against a student by an authority figure, made his initial court appearance Wednesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The school previously ousted Norment as girls’ basketball coach after getting reports that he stood outside his classroom door as players got changed, the newspaper reported.
Norment, whose bond was set at $100,000 Wednesday, asked for an attorney when faced with the allegations, according to the Sun-Sentinel. He remained in custody Thursday, online records show.
A judge also ordered Norment, of Jupiter, not to have contact with anyone under the age of 18 and to stay away from Palm Beach County school district properties, WPTV reported.
The principal at Independence Middle School told parents Tuesday that Norment had been reassigned in March to a “non-student” contact position outside the school after the allegations surfaced, according to the station.