A former home economics teacher, who shot to fame after a farewell video with her students went viral in 2020 and made an appearance on Good Morning America, claimed to have sex 20–30 times with a male high school senior. Heather Hare, 33, pleaded guilty in federal court to transporting a minor across state lines for unlawful sexual activity.
She now potentially faces a life sentence in prison, prosecutors said Monday. Hare, a married mom, first gained attention in 2020 when she was featured on "Good Morning America" where students surprised her by bidding her farewell as her home economics class was discontinued for distance learning during the pandemic.
Teacher or Predator?
Hare had 20–30 sex encounters with the victim, a male student at Bryant High School in Arkansas, including during a field trip to Washington, DC, throughout the 2021–2022 academic year.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the once-loved teacher was arrested in April of last year after the 17-year-old student came forward to claim that he had been abused repeatedly.
The boy, identified as "J.R.," told the police that he encountered Hare on the first day of his senior year at Bryant High School in the fall of 2021, according to Assistant US Attorney John Ray White during the court hearing.
"Hare began one-on-one counseling sessions with the minor victim, eventually giving him her personal phone number and primarily communicating with him through Instagram and Snapchat," the prosecutor's office said.
"At one point, Ms. Hare told J.R. that she had a dream of them having sex," White said.
"The minor victim and Hare had sex approximately 20 to 30 times throughout the 2021-2022 school term, including multiple times at her Conway residence, in her vehicle, and in her classroom and parking lots at Bryant High School."
Repeated Sexual Abuse
The incidents encompassed sexual encounters, including one during an April 2022 school trip to Washington, DC. During this trip, Hare accompanied J.R. and three female students for a national LifeSmarts competition associated with her Family Consumer Sciences course.
"J.R. advised they planned to have sex on the trip and not have to worry about being caught," White said. "Hare did come to his hotel room and the two engaged in sex."
During the court proceedings on Monday, the ex-teacher became emotional and broke down when questioned about the accuracy of the prosecutor's detailed account, confirming whether everything presented was "100% accurate."
Through soft sobs, she responded, "Yes, sir," before confirming that she had pleaded "guilty."
Hare admitted to the federal charge of transporting a minor as part of a plea deal that seeks a 13-year prison term. However, the judge declined to make a ruling on whether he accepts the deal, indicating that he will decide only during the sentencing hearing, which is yet to be scheduled.
If the judge rejects the plea deal, Hare has the option to withdraw her guilty plea and proceed to trial. Prosecutors stressed that this could result in the possibility of a life sentence.
"This former teacher took advantage of her position of trust and the vulnerability of a minor, using her role to entice and lure this minor into engaging in unlawful sexual activity," said US Attorney Jonathan Ross.
"Our office will continue to seek significant penalties against any educational professional who sexually abuse their students."
No sentencing date has been set yet. In her 2020 appearance on "GMA," Hare said that she was deeply moved and teary-eyed when she witnessed her students bidding her farewell.