JACKSONVILLE -

Onslow County deputies arrested a high school teacher they say was having sex with a student.

Christopher Howard, a 33-year-old teacher at Jacksonville High School, was arrested Wednesday around 9:30 a.m.  Onslow County Sheriff's deputies said Howard was the band director at the school.  He's facing multiple counts of sex offense with a student and indecent liberties with a student.

According to arrest warrants, Howard had relations with the student in March, April and May this year.  Deputies say the investigation into Howard began on May 23rd when a deputy spotted Howard and a 17-year-old female student in a parked vehicle.  The investigation shows, however, the relationship may have started as early as 2007, after a band concert.  In 2007, the victim, who has not been named publicly, was at most 13-years-old.

Dr. Barry Collins, Assistant Superintendent of Onslow County Schools, said the board is not taking this incident lightly.

"We always hope that nothing like this would ever happen, but when it does we make sure that we address it," said Collins.

According to the Jacksonville High School website, Howard was named teacher of the year in 2010.

"People who know Chris Howard would tell you that this is out of character for him," said Collins.

According to Collins, a teacher in this situation will typically be suspended first, pending an investigation.  Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Howard, who is facing felony charges, could lose his job and his North Carolina teaching license.