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40-year-old school sex abuse claims likely won't be prosecuted

Posted June 12, 2014
Updated June 16, 2014

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— 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.

8 Comments

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  • diana123 Jun 13, 2014

    yeah a little late to cash in buddies.

  • Norman Lewis Jun 13, 2014

    Most of the comments tend to imply the truth of the accusations. Why do you want to believe the worst? There is no evidence. The teacher expressed remorse? Maybe that such events were claimed but that is not a confession. And the story presented leaves out such facts as might be needed to determine truth.

  • Norman Lewis Jun 13, 2014

    I hope this is not another "repressed memories" circus brought on by some "therapist" that seeks to explain all someones problems by blaming "abuse" years ago. Almost anyone can "remember" almost anything with the right stimulation. No proof?, no documents?, no photographs?, no police reports? Let's not ruin or taint someones life forever on a vague report about a maybe event decades ago.

  • Edward Levy Jun 13, 2014

    Is the perp still employed at the school?

  • 50s Child Jun 13, 2014

    There may be no statute of limitations on felonies, but come on. You can't "decide" 40 years later that someone was "inappropriate" with you. BTW, let's stop using that word when we mean "sexual". It's "inappropriate" to giggle at a funeral.

  • Mike Berthold Jun 13, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The abuse happened in the 70's. Why didn't the accusers contact authorities between 2003 and 2012 either?

  • Mr Davis Jun 13, 2014

    According to the article in the Durham paper, the school principal said "Hanas said the charges have been on the school’s radar since about 2003 but really became pervasive in 2012, prompting the school to launch its investigation." So they did nothing for 10 years until it became public information on social media. That itself is criminal to allow that behavior to go unreported and allow the perps the opportunity to harm more children.

  • landonsgrampa Jun 13, 2014

    If you see it, know about it or it happens to you, say something about it. I know that is easy to say after the fact. Kids need to NOT be afraid to speak up.