WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - One year ago, former New Hanover County Schools band teacher Peter Frank was arrested for multiple sexual assault charges against students.
His alleged crimes included multiple counts of indecent liberties with children and students – and he was not the first teacher to be accused of sexual assault against students at New Hanover County.
In fact, Frank was the third employee to be arrested for sex crimes against students in a two-year period.
Frank has been accused of sex crimes dating back as far as 1999 and as recent as 2019.
Since the revelation of his crimes along with others, several top officials within the school system have left including former Superintendent Tim Markley; former Deputy Superintendent Rick Holliday; Assistant superintendent of human resources John Welmers; and former attorney Wayne Bullard.
Frank remains in the New Hanover County jail awaiting trial.
The case has seen several changes in the past year, including a new prosecutor and venue due to a “potential conflict of interest” in the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office.
While no trial date has been set, the case will eventually be heard in a Bladen County courtroom instead of New Hanover Superior Court.
In addition to the criminal case, the civil case involving some of Frank’s alleged victims remains ongoing.
Martin Ramey, one of the attorneys representing the victims in the lawsuit, said the case is currently in the discovery process.
“Discovery is ongoing in the civil case, and we have had a couple of depositions already, though I can’t discuss those because they’re covered by the protective order. The pending nature of the criminal case just complicates things and access to folks,” he said.
The civil trial could possibly start in early 2022, but a lot has to take place between now and then.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.
Trial date set for former New Hanover band teacher accused of sex crimes against students
A trial date is set for the former band director of Roland-Grise Middle School accused of committing sex crimes against students over several decades.
Peter Frank's trial is set for Aug. 16 in Bladen County, according to Laura Brewer, N.C. Department of Justice public information officer.
Brewer said a motion to change venue due to pre-trial publicity was approved, and the judge chose Bladen. Attorney General Josh Stein's office was handed the case by New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David due to a conflict of interest early on in the case.
Attorney Bruce Mason is representing Frank and declined to comment on the upcoming trial.
Frank is accused of committing sex crimes against students from 1998 to 2019 while he was employed at Roland-Grise Middle School. He is charged with 29 counts of felony sex crimes against children and students, including first-degree sexual offenses, statutory sex offenses with a person who is aged 13, 14, or 15, sexual activity with a student, indecent liberties with a child, and indecent liberties with a student.
His alleged victims were minors and students at the school.
More info:Second lawsuit filed against New Hanover County Board of Education
Trio of civil lawsuits including Frank:New Hanover County Schools finds new lawyers
Frank, who was originally arrested on Jan. 24, 2020, was fired by the New Hanover County Board of Education on Feb. 15, 2020. A class action lawsuit was filed in April 2020 against the New Hanover County Board of Education over teacher-student sexual abuse, naming Frank.
In light of Frank's case, the school system's assistant superintendent of human resources, Dr. John Welmer, and Superintendent Tim Markley both resigned from their positions in 2020.
New Hanover County Schools have come under heat again this month following two staff members having sexual allegations made against them.
On Monday, Former Hoggard High School volleyball coach Ron Strickland was charged by the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office with two counts of sexual activity by a custodian, a crime he allegedly committed in the 1980s.
The two came forward saying they had an inappropriate relationship starting around 1982 while they were 16 years old.
Court:Longtime Hoggard volleyball coach Ron Strickland to appear in court Tuesday
Noble Middle School Assistant Principal David Bostian was also accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student in 1992 while he was a physical education teacher at New Hanover High School.
The David Bostian case: Timeline of events from accusations to most recent reactions
New Hanover County Schools responds: to death of middle school assistant principal David Bostian
Related:Wilmington assistant principal found dead after allegations of inappropriate student relationship
New Hanover County Schools address:sex offenses, student safety
Bostian shot himself on April 2 hours after being charged with two counts of sexual offense by a government employee and being released on an unsecured bond.
Reporter Krys Merryman can be reached at 910-343-2272 or [email protected]
View CommentsSours: https://www.starnewsonline.com/story/news/2021/04/14/peter-frank-sexual-offense-case-going-trial-bladen-county/7188184002/
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Peter Frank, the former band director at Roland-Grise Middle School, was indicted by a New Hanover County grand jury on 17 child sex crime charges, according to Attorney General Josh Stein’s Office.
While Tuesday’s indictment is only related to one victim, Frank now faces charges for crimes connected to a total of seven different students.
Frank was indicted on two charges of first-degree sexual offense, statutory sex offense with a person who is 13, 14, or 15, three counts of sexual activity with a student, seven counts of indecent liberties with a child and four counts of indecent liberties with a student.
The indictment alleges that Frank committed these crimes during his tenure at Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington and his victim was a minor and a student at the same school. The incidents allegedly occurred between September 1998 and August 2000.
The indictment announced Tuesday brings Frank’s total victim count up to seven people; the charges filed against him in January in New Hanover County involve six other victims and are connected to crimes that allegedly took place from 2003 to 2019.
Frank was initially arrested on Jan. 24 and eventually fired by the New Hanover County Board of Education on Feb. 15, following a lengthy closed-session meeting.
Frank is currently in custody in the New Hanover County Jail and under a $750,000 bond on six counts of indecent liberties with a child and six counts of indecent liberties with a student by a teacher in a separate case.
Attorney General Stein’s Special Prosecutions Section was referred this criminal case for prosecution by New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation of this case.
Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - WECT has obtained search warrants that appear to detail the crimes against a seventh victim in the Peter Frank case. Frank, who worked as a band teacher at Roland Grise Middle School before being fired last month, is in jail accused of multiple sex crimes against his former students.
***Warning: This story contains graphic details about the investigation***
While investigating six other apparent victims who were students of Franks between 2003 and 2019, detectives became aware of a seventh student who was involved with Frank in 1999. After interviewing this seventh person, she “informed detectives she had a relationship with Peter Frank, who was her band instructor, while she was in middle school at Roland Grise,” according to the search warrant.
“[The victim] informed detectives on several occasions Peter Frank performed oral sex on her in the band room at Roland Grise Middle School,” the search warrant continues. It notes that Frank and the student exchanged gifts and used a pseudonym “Marty” for Frank when they corresponded so people wouldn’t know who she was talking to.
The search warrant indicates that on Jan. 29, 2020, investigators received an anonymous tip that Frank would buy “concert tickets, play tickets and movie tickets to alibi his whereabouts while he was alone with students.”
Based on the fact that investigators found mementos from Frank’s relationships with other students, detectives requested an additional search warrant to look for more evidence-based on their new leads. An evidence voucher attached to the search warrant indicates detectives seized year books, permission forms for students to practice while on school break, and CDs from the Roland Grise band office.
A second search warrant for Frank’s home, based on the same reasons for probable cause, resulted in the seizure of many more items.
Detectives seized a video recorder, two XBOXs, a tablet, a laptop, a digital camera, two cell phones, yearbooks, handwritten and printed letters, ticket stubs, CDs, DVDs, photos, and a key. In addition, investigators took a tie from Frank’s closet with musical notes on it, fitting the description of the tie one of the victims said she gave Frank as a gift. They also seized several nude photos in a cardboard envelope in a bedroom in the home. There was no indication if those pictures were of students.
The newly-obtained warrants were executed by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s office on Feb. 4, three days before Superintendent Tim Markley resigned on Feb. 7.
These documents join others that detail how Frank was counseled by the school system for inappropriate relationships with students in incidents dating back to 1997.
Peter Frank was fired on Feb. 15, about two weeks after he was originally arrested by the sheriff’s office. As of publication he remains in jail under a $850,000 bond.
Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.
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NHC Schools Faces Scrutiny Over Handling Of Child Predator Allegations
Peter Frank, a band teacher at Roland Grise Middle School in Wilmington, faces multiple felony charges of sex crimes against children. He is just the latest in several recent high-profile cases involving employees of New Hanover County Public Schools and allegations of child sex abuse.
WHQR talks with Ben Schachtman, Managing Editor of Port City Daily, about his reporting on the issue – including why complaints about these teachers didn’t stop them from having access to kids for years.
RLH: Ben Schachtman, we’ve seen now three high profile public cases with people accused of sex crimes against children in the New Hanover County public school system. Is there a systemic problem?
BS: I think what makes people say that is that in each case the pattern looks very similar and that pattern looks like internal disciplinary documents and parents filing complaints, leaving a paper trail that we've in some cases had access to before ultimately there's an arrest. Wrongful termination suits are a major issue. There are also personnel laws. You cannot simply just fire a tenured teacher. It's not as cut and dried as some people think it is.
And so had this happened once, yes, I would say, you know, maybe this is just an unfortunate incident, but we're looking at three cases now. And in each case we saw that there had been, you know, warning signs, documented evidence of wrongdoing followed by an arrest where the claims of parents were vindicated.
RLH: And in at least a couple of cases, this has gone on for many years. We're not even talking about a few incidents that raised red flags.
BS: So yes. So the Michael Earl Kelly Case dates back for 20 some years, to at least 2003 probably earlier and the most recent arrest. And we should make clear that this is only arrest this, there hasn't been a trial or hearing but, Peter Michael Frank had notes in his personnel file at Roland Grise Middle School of inappropriate relationships dating back to 1999.
RLH: New Hanover County commissioners have pledged, I don't know if you would call it support, to the school system. This is an interesting new twist to protocols because so far these issues are things that would either be handled within the school system or through law enforcement or both. Now the commissioners are getting involved. What does that mean and how is that happening?
BS: It's difficult to find a precedent for this. The Board of Education is its own thing. And the only real power the board of commissioners has over the school board is they sign the check, right? They, they approve the budget. Obviously they can't remove elected officials, but what they've done has been presented as offering support. But it seems to me as if it is a direct recognition that they don't feel like the Board of Education is doing enough because these are clearly resources that the board of education could call on if they wanted.
RLH: And what are the resources?
BS: Right. So…what we're talking about is sending in detectives with the new Hanover County Sheriff's Office who are trained in investigating sex crimes and forensic investigators from the Department of Social Services. Again, these are people who spend their life investigating sex crimes often against children. Those are the people who were being sent and also counseling and mental health officials who were there for the very real psychological trauma that comes from assaults on children.
RLH: Now, ostensibly, that would be happening already, but it's not. Is that the implication?
BS: That is our understanding and we've done some research in the past, and some reporting on some of the hesitancy of the school system to let in outside counseling. That’s changed a little bit in the last couple of years... Bottom line, these are resources that are not currently in the school and the county’s basically saying, we would like to bring these in, but the end of the day the school board has to approve it.
RLH: Ben Schachtman, Managing Editor of Port City Daily, thanks so much for being with us today.
BS: Thank you so much for having me.
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