Kingwood teacher accused of sex with student: ‘I allowed it to go too far’

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 24 at 11:20 PM

KINGWOOD, Texas -- A popular Kingwood Park High former social studies teacher and football coach has been charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Zachary Harlan, 35, resigned from the school back in November 2013. That’s when the accusations surfaced, and he was placed on administrative leave.

Parents had received a letter informing them about the accusations against Harlan.

Harlan has been arrested more than two months later and is now officially charged with the crime.

“He’s innocent until proven guilty,” said parent Amy Hogan. “It doesn’t change my stance until I hear everything. I don’t know what to think.”

Parents and students have been defending Harlan since the allegations surfaced.

Harlan is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old senior girl back in October 2013.

Documents describe an on-going relationship that began with flirtatious emails and conversations. Harlan reportedly admitted to the school’s principal that it escalated into something inappropriate.

Prosecutors say Harlan told the principal in a written statement:

“I allowed her to become attached to me on a personal level, and I allowed myself to do the same…And I even met her off campus. Our roles began to change as I began to take on a caregiver role, and she began to rely on me more.”

It went on to say:

“At times my relationship with [ ] got carried away, and I allowed it to go too far.”

Documents also detail e-mails between the former teacher and student. Some of the information is too graphic to publish or air on TV.

In one e-mail, the girl wrote, in part:

“I guess I’m not used to a guy telling me that we should play the safe route. I don’t want our relationship to run short either.”

According to documents, Harlan replied, in part:

“Well, I play the safe route because I’m not in it to just get mine and move on. Trust me, I want to do a lot of things, but it’s important to me that we continue to have these opportunities.”

Harlan’s neighbors say, from the outside, he appeared to be a happily married man raising young children. However, they also acknowledge that times have changed.

“I can’t say I’m completely surprised in this day and age. Things happen, not saying it’s right,” said neighbor Mark Weldon.

Harlan is now charged with felony improper relationship with a student. He was released from jail on a $10,000 bond.

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