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Former student starts Facebook support group after ex-Volusia County teacher arrested

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Many people have come forward about a former Volusia County teacher accused of inappropriate conduct with a 15-year-old student.

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Hankerd was arrested last week after investigators said he had a sexual relationship with an Atlantic High School student, where he was teaching at the time.

A detective in court testified in court Wednesday that more than 40 women have contacted Port Orange police after Hankerd’s arrest.

Police said the women issued concerns about Hankerd’s conduct while working for the district. Investigators said four were victims of other sexual abuse.

Read: Ex-Volusia County teacher accused of sexual relationship with student; 40 women contact police

Hankerd’s former student Jennifer Von Hein said the women are reaching out through a group she helped create on Facebook.

She said the group was meant to be a safe space, but she never expected it to quickly grow.

Von Hein said the allegations against Hankerd do not surprise her.

Read: Volusia County teacher accused of inappropriate contact was ‘exonerated’ from previous accusations

“I was in his class,” she said. “It was 2013-2014, my junior year at Mainland (High School).”

Von Hein claims Hankerd, a former gym teacher at Mainland High School, also made inappropriate comments to her.

“He would make comments about our clothing,” Von Hein said.

She said she reported it, but nothing came of her reports, until now, with the case out in the open.

Read: Volusia County teacher, gym coach suspended after accusations of sexual relationship with student

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that many people to be on it,” Von Hein said. “We have a lot of requests we still have to go through.”

Von Hein and another woman, both former students of Hankerd, run the private Facebook group they started two days ago.

“We wanted it to be the girls just being able to talk to each other, comfort each other and be there for each other,” Von Hein said.

There are over 100 people in the group.

Read: OCPS to pay $375K to settle lawsuit alleging district failed to protect student from sexual assualt

Channel 9 uncovered Daytona Beach Police documents from 2019 and 2020 that showed two Mainland High School students accused Hankerd of touching them appropriately.

Volusia County School District spokesperson Angel Gomez told Channel 9 that the district knew about these allegations.

“He was exonerated,” Gomez said.

Read: Volusia County Schools to hire international teachers with $2 million agreement, combat shortage

Von Hein said at least 15 women in the Facebook group said they plan to be at Hankerd’s next hearing.

“No one’s alone in this, so we’re all going to be there,” she said. “I want him to see us and know that we’re going to fight. There’s a lot of us.”

Hankerd’s arraignment is scheduled for March 7.

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