CAPE CORAL FL Feb 11 2017
A Cape Coral high school teacher is behind bars following allegations he had sex with a student.
Lee County deputies said the relationship between Mariner High School teacher and basketball coach James Harris, 40, and the student had been going on since November.
The Lee County School District placed Harris on administrative leave.
The charges against Harris have shocked Mariner parents and his neighbors in Cape Coral.
"I don't understand why they throw away their career," said Barbera Kramer, Harris' neighbor.
"Can't say whether it's a fall from grace or whether he is a historical predator. It's horrible," said parent Evans Momperousse.
Harris, a social studies teacher and the Mariner High boys basketball coach, has been teaching in the Lee County school system for 15 years, and according to his personnel documents, has nothing but positive performance reviews.
"He basically ruined his career. You know, we entrust him with the safety of our children, and we never expect for something like this to happen, you know, for a coach to do something like this, it's horrible," Momperousse said.
Deputies said last summer, Harris began texting with an underage student; their relationship then turned sexual.
He is accused of picking up the student in his car multiple times, then taking her to his home in Cape Coral to have sex.
"That's awful. That could be your child at that point. That's disgusting," Kramer said.
"You know, some people have bad judgment. I don't know if he had bad judgment or what it was," Momperousse said.
Students at Mariner High School said the student Harris was involved with is a girl.
"Me having my 16-year-old daughter in high school, it affects me because I'm, we're very protective of our kids," Momperousse said.
The school district has launched an internal investigation.
Harris is in the Lee County Jail, charged with two counts of sexually assaulting a minor.
Harris' basketball team had a very successful season and are scheduled to play Lely on Friday for their fifth district title in the last six years.
It's the eighth straight year the team has made it to the district championship.