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Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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Plant High tennis coach resigns amid allegations

TAMPA - Plant High School's girls tennis coach Mary Lynn Vu resigned this week following allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old player. "Although she was exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing, Mary feels it is in the best interests of Plant High School that she start anew," her attorney, Mark O'Brien said in an e-mail Tuesday. Vu, 31, who also taught biology at the school, turned in her resignation Monday, school district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. The move comes two weeks after Tampa police detectives closed a monthlong investigation without filing charges. The girl told investigators the two had kissed and touched at Vu's Tampa home and in a classroom, but police concluded that no sexual battery had taken place and that the girl had reached the age of consent by the time she said she and Vu had physical contact.
Police began investigating Vu after the girl's parents filed a complaint. Detectives said the girl's mother handed over 267 pages of printed text messages from the girl's iPhone. Many were to and from Vu and of a romantic nature, police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said. The girl told authorities she and Vu had been texting each other for more than a year and at one point said they had exchanged "12,000'' text messages. The messages started out casual but became more frequent in February, she said. By April, the girl told police Vu sent her a text saying "she was drunk and that she wanted to kiss me.'' Vu's attorney disputes the girl's story, saying she made it up. "Mary was a high school tennis coach in our modern world and as a result she frequently communicated with all of her players via phone text message out of convenience to her players," O'Brien said. "Our office has not viewed any text messages to any of her players that were 'romantic in nature' and therefore will not comment on something that does not exist.'' School officials had begun their own investigation of Vu, a tenured teacher who had worked for the school district since 2002. Instead, they will refer her file to the state Department of Education's professional practices commission for review, Cobbe said.

Reporter Sherri Ackerman can be reached at (813) 259-7144. Reporter Katherine Smith can be reached at (813) 259-7860.

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