UPDATE | Former BHS coach pleads of ‘not guilty’ to sexual misconduct with student athlete

The former Bainbridge High School coach accused of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor after she allegedly had a romantic relationship with a student athlete entered a plea of “not guilty” during a brief court appearance late last week.

Along with her lawyer, Karen Unger, but seemingly otherwise unaccompanied, Nicole Elizabeth Hebner appeared before Superior Court Judge Sally F. Olsen on Thursday, Aug. 31.

She had been charged with felony first-degree sexual misconduct in August in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Hebner, who was a coach for two girls’ sports teams at BHS, stood in a sparsely filled courtroom and gave brief responses to the judge’s questions while primarily letting Unger speak on her behalf.

She was released on her own recognizance following the quick proceedings, and is expected to return to court for her next hearing in late October.

According to court documents, Hebner, 35, had sex with one of her players, who was 18 at the time, while Hebner was a coach and teacher with the Bainbridge Island School District.

The alleged misconduct occurred between June 2015 and June 2016, when the teen had been on two teams that Hebner coached.

Hebner’s contact with the student has been under investigation since last summer.

During her appearance last week, however, Unger alleged that while Hebner had been adamantly adhering to the legal order to avoid all contact with the younger woman, the former student had been obsessively attempting to contact Hebner by phone and email.

The illicit relationship came to light in July 2016, when Hebner allegedly told friends that she had an “inappropriate relationship” with a student.

Investigators searched the victim’s phone and found numerous messages between the student and Hebner, according to court documents.

The messages indicated the pair had been meeting in different places, that the student had been to Hebner’s home, and that Hebner had been giving the student rides.