Local News

Warrants detail sex misconduct claims against Zebulon school's headmaster

Posted March 20, 2012
Updated March 21, 2012

— A female employee at a Zebulon charter school told authorities that, when she reported to school administrators that the headmaster inappropriately touched her, she was told to "play dumb and hope he went away, that she wasn't the only one."

That's according to search warrants made public Tuesday in a police investigation into sexual battery accusations by two employees at East Wake Academy, where its top administrator, Brandon Smith, has been placed on a paid leave of absence in the wake of the claims against him.

The warrants, which were issued Monday for computer equipment at Smith's Wendell home as well as the school, also state that there are allegations on a social media site from an unidentified former student claiming inappropriate contact.

"I know from word of mouth and by firsthand experience!" investigators wrote in an affidavit, citing the social media site. "I have seen heard and experienced this man for 5 years!" another post from the same person said.

Smith, 57, who has been the headmaster at East Wake Academy for nearly a decade, has not been charged with any crime. He has said that the accusations are from disgruntled former employees.

James Hairston, an attorney representing Smith, said Tuesday morning that he had not yet seen the warrants but was aware of them.

"We were very cooperative in the search warrant process," Hairston said. "We don't have anything to hide."

He also confirmed reports that Smith is thinking about suing the accusers.

"He is considering lawsuits against a lot of folks," Hairston said.

Warrants reveal sex misconduct claims against headmaster Warrants reveal sex misconduct claims against headmaster

According to the warrants, both female employees separately contacted police last Wednesday to report that Smith inappropriately touched them.

The first female employee reported the acts prior to contacting police, the warrants' affidavits state, but they do not say to whom.

"Victim #1 stated that she was unsure of how she was supposed to feel because of the encounter and was in fear of losing her job."

The second woman said that Smith touched her inappropriately on more than one occasion and that he also solicited her for sexual acts.

She also told investigators that she believed numerous other people would come forward "because this is what his reputation was known for," according to the warrants.

Both women told investigators that Smith corresponded with them regarding the allegations. The second said that access to her work email had been reset in an attempt to keep her from past emails.

Both women also reported that Smith had remote access to control school surveillance cameras.

The allegations aren't the first for Smith.

A teacher at Githens Middle School in Durham in the late 1990s 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, who was the principal at the time, 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 still unclear why he left.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ashwednesday36 Mar 29, 2012


    This decision reviewed by Ingrid Johansen at UNC. Not all of the charges were dismissed and this is very clearly stated in this review. If there is further evidence that these charges were dismissed then maybe that could be posted here instead of attacking the person(s) providing the information.

  • ashwednesday36 Mar 28, 2012

    It is not difficult to know what the accusers have said, the search warrants were posted by WRAL. The things posted here, such as from 2penny, paint a bigger picture of a person who leads through threats and intimidation. The art teacher a couple of years ago was escorted off campus for "having her phone out during EOGs." That was apparently not witnessed by anyone other than a kid and she was dismissed......but she was one of the "no longer wanted." Smith had a knack for hiring good peaople (like the former administrator who left and went to the Wake County System after being made to look foolish)and taking what they are doing well, getting rid of the good people and then using their techniques, knowledge and strategies and caliming them as his own. cconners may be your real name and if you are attached in any way with EWA you would be safe from retributions because you support Brandon. As you said, though, it will all come out in the wash.

  • cconners0312 Mar 28, 2012

    wildcatpride999...You go! bout time someone called him out. mikechadwick123 has no 1st hand knowledge of these specific issues or who the women really are. Alumni? So how much trouble did you get into at EWA that you have such an ax to grind against the headmaster? What a churlish (SAT word) little boy! In fact unless someone actually heard directly from these women about what Smith did and are willing to name names (theirs included) how about letting this play out with all the facts. Can it ALSO be NONE of their allegations ever happened? Unfortunately, won't be the first time women lie for their own reasons about such a terrible thing and make it hard for true victims. SHAME on them for dragging smith through the mud with a convenient accusation (their allegations sound like they lifted them from the Dismissed Durham case)just to try and get money from suing the school.

  • 2penny Mar 27, 2012

    Many teachers have gone to the school board through the years and nothing has ever been done… other than those teachers were not invited back to teach the following year.

    The school board at EWA is self appointed. It is a club that you cannot join unless you are invited by the current board members. The entire board should be forced to step down. The reason the school is receiving all this negative attention is because the board chose to ignore the smoking guns because Brandon Smith was successfully leading the school in other areas. They knew of his past when they hired him. At the time they hired him they were having a hard time finding someone who would take the job. I was teaching there at the time and we had several principals in rapid succession just before he signed on.

    He is a bully, a bigot to women, and lacks common sense when it comes to matters of sexuality.

  • jenny06 Mar 26, 2012

    killing_me_softly, maybe it would be helpful if the police can see in the surveillance recordings what Smith was most interested in looking at.

  • wildcatpride999 Mar 22, 2012

    mikechadwick123, you keep referring to these two women that are making all these accusations and charges, yet you don't even know who these two women are, or if they even have a legitimate case. You need to stop talking about things you know nothing about until all the facts are in.

  • bhappy Mar 22, 2012

    am I missing something? The warrants states that he also had a laptop assigned to him ( according to a staff member ), they took his school computer, 3 photographs from his bedroom ( per the warrant ). What happened to the school appointed laptop? Did i miss that?

  • shortshooter Mar 22, 2012

    Listen to him talk... "My" community, "My" staff, "My" Parents... As if the world revolves around him and nobody else.. YUCK!!!

  • Whosays Mar 21, 2012

    EWA has lost some really good teachers over the years, I don't know why, but I know my daughter had lost several good ones while she was there.

  • btneast Mar 21, 2012

    instead of saying Im a fool. Simply stating somebody is a fool, doesn't make them look like one.

    His calling you a fool wasn't about what you said, but that you were commenting on public forums about ongoing criminal investigations that you seem to have a connection with. It could taint the investigation.....that is what is foolish....