40-year-old school sex abuse claims likely won't be prosecuted
Posted June 12, 2014
Updated June 16, 2014
Durham, N.C. — Allegations of sexual abuse at a Quaker school in Durham likely won't result in prosecution, an Orange County prosecutor said Thursday, because too much time has passed since the alleged offenses occurred.
The accusations involve five former students of Carolina Friends School in Durham who say the school's principal inappropriately touched them between 1969 and 1975. One of those students also reported being inappropriately touched by a teacher in 1976.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor Jr. says the reason the cases won't go to trial is because the reported sexual abuse was classified as a misdemeanor at the time it occurred and that the statute of limitations on misdemeanor crimes is two years.
"Things that are clearly felonies today that we would prosecute at the drop of a hat were misdemeanors then," Proctor said.
Still, the Orange County Sheriff's Office – which has jurisdiction over the part of Durham where the school is located – is investigating to determine if there might be other victims or if any allegations warrant felony charges.
In North Carolina, there is no statute of limitations for felony charges.
The reported abuse came to light recently when the school conducted an independent review into claims it received in 2012.
Principal Mike Hanas says the school contacted both the principal and the teacher involved. The teacher expressed remorse and, within 24 hours, killed himself. The school has not received a response from the principal, Hanas said.
Carolina Friends School opened in 1964 and has nearly 500 students from Durham and Chapel Hill between the ages of 3 and 18.
Hanas said that, in light of the school's discovery, the school is now working with a group to help train teachers and staff to recognize signs of sexual abuse and neglect. It has also strengthened its process for background checks and changed some protocols when it comes to overnight events.