Coach, 40, Weds 16-Year-Old Student

Windy Hager's parents felt they had little choice but to sign a consent form.

ByABC News via logo

June 22, 2007 — -- The Hagers are trying to figure out how life went off track for their teenage daughter, Windy.

They envisioned that life for the good student and promising athlete would be filled with dreams of the prom and college, but that all changed this week when Windy, 16, married her high school track coach.

"She was a dream kid," said her mother, Betty Hager. "We'd never have to worry about Windy trying to get by with something."

At South Brunswick High School in North Carolina, Windy's greatest passion was track and field.

"She just always was outside, always running, and her name's Windy — I guess she was predestined to do love to do that," Betty said.

But that passion led her down a troubling path.

During Windy's freshman year, her 38-year-old track coach, Brenton Wuchae, began taking a more active interest in her, offering to give the 14-year-old rides home from practice.

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"He just seemed like a genuine guy, like he was there for the kids," said Windy's father, Dennis Hager.

But the Hagers eventually grew uneasy. Their phone bills showed text messages between Wuchae and Windy as late as 2 a.m.

They also discovered worrying e-mails. In one, Windy wrote to a friend, "I don't care to look at anyone other than him. He is the apple of my eye, I've never felt this way for someone, but I just don't want to lose him because of my parents' power trips."

The Hagers confronted Wuchae.

"He assured me there was nothing like that going on, [and that] they were just friends. His intentions were purely appropriate," Dennis said.

Not satisfied with that answer, the Hagers turned to the school district, which spoke to the coach.

The principal of the high school wrote to the Hagers, "I have seen nothing but a cooperative attitude from the teacher, and to the best of my knowledge, he has not had any contact with Windy since then."

"School officials can't be responsible for what happens the other hours of the day, and I would think the relationship developed much more outside of school," said Brian Shaw, an attorney for the school district.

The Hagers contacted police; they even tried to get a restraining order.

"We've tried everybody. We've been to the law. We've been to the school board," Betty said. "Our family has come and tried to talk to her. We've had people on the phone with her for hours — family, friends. We've been to our pastor asking for guidance. We've been to his pastor."

Meanwhile, the Hagers say Windy withdrew, refusing to speak to them until she asked them to sign a consent form so that she and her coach — a man more than twice her age — could get married.

Although anguished, her weary parents gave in.

"Signing those consent forms was the hardest thing I did in my whole life, but we had to move on, it was going to kill us all," Dennis said.

Monday, Windy and Wuchae married, and he resigned from the school.

But was Windy really old enough to understand her decision? Experts say it's a difficult situation.

"With most teenagers, they're not sure yet who's who and what's what and what should be done," said Henry Paul, author of the book "Is My Teenager OK?" "It's obviously up to the adult figure to set the boundaries."

Windy and her new husband would not comment for this story, but the Hagers realize what they've lost.

"She could have done anything," Betty said. "She could have set the world on fire. She threw it all away."

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