A science teacher at Parkland’s Washington High School is accused of carrying on a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student for nine months.
Pierce County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Christopher McKay, 30, with four counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.
Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered McKay to have no contact with the girl.
The teen came forward in January and told an assistant principal at the school she’d been having sex with McKay, her sophomore biology teacher, since April 2014.
McKay was immediately put on administrative leave while criminal and professional conduct investigations were launched, Franklin Pierce School District spokesman Willie Painter said.
McKay allowed the girl to study in his classroom before school, court records indicate.
They began exchanging text messages in March 2014 and had sex for the first time in a car after going for a walk at Sunnyside Beach the next month, prosecutors allege.
The girl told officials they had sex two or three times a month, at McKay’s apartment and at his then-girlfriend’s house.
McKay’s then-girlfriend later told police she remembered coming home and once finding them in her house. McKay told her he was giving the student “emotional support” because her mother had cancer, according to court documents.
At one point, a man who identified himself as an attorney called the girl and told her to get her belongings out of McKay’s apartment and stop talking to him because someone had reported their affair to Child Protective Services.
“On more than one occasion, the defendant told (the victim) that he knew it was wrong and tried to end things,” according to charging papers. “The relationship became so intense for (the victim) that she began cutting and having suicidal ideations.”
Deputy prosecutor Robert Yu asked for $75,000 bail for McKay, saying he thought the teacher posed a danger to the community even though he has no previous criminal history.
“He used his position of trust to have sexual relations with an 11th grader for close to a year,” Yu said. “We’re not talking about one incident. This was repeated contact.”
Defense attorney Casey Arbenz, who represented McKay at the arraignment, argued that the teacher was not a flight risk or a danger to the community and asked that he be released on his promise to appear at future court dates.
“My client is on paid administrative leave,” Arbenz said. “He’s not going to be teaching during the pendency of this case. There’s no risk he’ll have any contact with students.”
The commissioner agreed to release McKay on his own recognizance.
McKay has worked for Franklin Pierce School District since 2007 as a science teacher. He has been based at Washington High for four years. Before that, he taught at Gates High School.
Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.