Local News

Second sexual battery complaint filed against Zebulon school headmaster

Posted March 15, 2012

— A second female employee at a Zebulon charter school has filed a criminal complaint against the school's headmaster, claiming sexual battery, the town's police chief said Thursday.

The board of directors at East Wake Academy placed Brandon Smith on a paid leave of absence Wednesday evening while it investigates a personnel matter involving him.

The board's vice chairman, Bill Ausley would not say what the matter was.

"I ask that nobody assume anything until (the investigation's) concluded, perhaps in a court of law," he said.

Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said Thursday that the employee filed the complaint late Wednesday evening, hours after another employee filed a similar complaint.

Sexual battery, Hayworth said, is unwanted touching for sexual gratification.

"We're going to be following up on this case like we would any case," he said. "The assumption of innocence is there. It's innocent until proven guilty."

Smith, 57, who has been the headmaster at East Wake Academy for nearly a decade, has not been charged with any crime.

He said Wednesday that the accusations are from disgruntled former employees.

Second employee files complaint headmaster Second employee files complaint headmaster

"I'm bound … by personnel law in terms of what I can say," he said. "I can tell you this: I continue to follow policy. I have always put children first, and I have not done anything wrong or harmed anyone."

Parents' reaction were mixed Thursday.

"The principal seemed like a really good guy, and he probably still is," Amy Shirley said. "I don't know what the circumstances are, but it's just a shame that we're all having to deal with it."

"I know one of the teachers really well," Bonnie Taylor said. "She was one of my son's teachers. She's really a wonderful teacher, and so I'm really saddened by all of this."

The allegations aren't the first for Smith, who was the principal of Githens Middle School in Durham in the late 1990s.

Court records show that a chorus teacher filed a lawsuit against the Durham County Board of Education, alleging that it ignored complaints that Smith "created a sexually hostile work environment by engaging in sexually explicit and suggestive behavior toward her."

The complaint alleged that Smith would tell the teacher that he thought she was "beautiful" and "sexy" and that on one occasion, he kissed her with an open mouth after grabbing her and pulling her to him.

Smith was suspended in February 2000 and resigned five months later. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court.

Prior to working in Durham, Smith was an assistant principal at Enloe High School in Raleigh from 1990 to 1993, according to the Wake County Public School System. It's unclear why he left.


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  • ashwednesday36 Mar 22, 2012

    LOL Sure you do.....and that would be important because you think I am? What? Nothing changes what Brandon has done. Read and think about this: http://csl.sog.unc.edu/node/342

  • freeadvice Mar 16, 2012

    Ashwednesday - its a great day to put the top down and take a ride

  • freeadvice Mar 16, 2012

    Ashwednesday - I do believe i know who you are....interesting.

  • gottalovenc Mar 16, 2012

    ewamom "Unfortunately, westernwake, the 'concerned parents' took it upon themselves to contact the media before the complaints were filed. Yes, the media would have picked up on it in time, but this group would not let due process run its course. Hindsight being what it is, if the group would have waited for a whole extra day, then the board would have been allowed to act accordingly and the outcome would have been much better for ALL parties involved."

    When you say the concerned parents should have waited a day - Do You know how long the board has had the documentation and did nothing?

    The only fact right now is that the police are investigating this and they are the only ones that can take action. Everyone else that is a parent at that school or staff member at that school needs to STAY OUT OF IT & Mind their own business - let the police take care of it! Posting on here isnt going to make anyone guilty or innocent!

  • gottalovenc Mar 16, 2012

    sprotrusky - it is so obvious you dont know what you are talking about the board has known about this situaion for a while now and has had signed documents for over a week - maybe its a good thing that the media got involved becuase it obviously pushed to board to finally do something - have you seen all the other comments from Current & former staff and even students? Hey since you said you claim to know who let the media know will you thank that person for me? If they hadnt been involved I wonder if we ever would have found out

  • wuffin Mar 16, 2012

    Let's face it Ashwed, all you have done thus far is spew your obvious dislike for the man and the situation. You go on and on as if to feel so mighty and important.

    Quite frankly, it's time to hush or privately do what you feel you need to do. You are losing credibility with every post.

    Are you one of those frustrated Drama-Mamas?

  • sprotrusky Mar 16, 2012

    My story is straight. I was saying that they were involved with contacting the media and they were period end of story. As far as the rest, I have my opinion and you have yours but most of yours have been angry threats, not really opinions or facts. To each their own. at 4:00 today, track out begins so let's just let the police do their job and then we can continue to argue with each other after that.

  • ashwednesday36 Mar 16, 2012

    "What about what these women should have done. Like Not contacting the media and actually waiting a few days to see what the board decided." - sprotrusky

    I know who contacted the media because she posted in on her facebook wall which no she was not one of the accusers but a close friend. -- sprotrusky

    You know, you need to keep your story straight. I will back up anything and everything I have posted here. The charges from Durham and the resulting decision(s) are a matter of public record and have been noted on this blog. And for the record....I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE the opportunity to share my information in a courtroom. If this makes it to court.....maybe I will. As I said, emails are forever and Brandon has sent many as well as written letters that have his signature on them. He and his EWA Mafia are on their way into court for better or worse. And I do agree, it's sad if this closes the school......but Mike Lester was warned of that possibility a year ago.

  • dirkdiggler Mar 16, 2012

    Thank God for track out. I hope this blows over, or at least simmers down, before school gets back in session. What a mess....

  • westernwake1 Mar 16, 2012

    "Everyone needs to step back and bring some sanity back into this whole nasty situation. At this point, it is only hurting the children and the community" - ewamom

    I agree with you about this. I do not know anyone involved in this situation. I do know however the East Wake Academy has an excellent reputation with the majority of the staff being well-respected in the community. Clearly the school has a lot of support from parents and children.

    It would be unfortunate if this entire dismal situation cast EWA in a poor light - when overall it is a high quality school that does a great job educating students. Hopefully over the upcoming months the focus can return to helping the children and building the community at EWA with this situation out of the intense spotlight.