Local News

Principal Resigns Amid Harassment Allegations

Posted September 11, 2007

— The principal of Southern Vance High School has resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed a teacher.

James Pickens stepped down as principal during Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

The teacher filed a civil suit in Vance County Superior Court alleging that since March, Pickens has made sexually suggestive and degrading comments to her at school.

In the complaint, the woman alleged Pickens grabbed her, pulled her to him, forceably kissed her and fondled her.

The complaint also claimed Pickens has a history of committing similar acts against women that he supervises.

The allegations caught School Superintendent Norman Shearin by surprise.

"I fell out of my chair almost," said Shearin.

Shearin and the Board of Education are also listed as defendants in the complaint. The victim claimed Pickens' had a history of sexual harassment and that administrators knew it before hiring him. Shearin denied that was the case.

The accuser took a leave of absence from the school because of emotional distress.

Telephone calls by WRAL-TV 5 to Pickens' house Tuesday were not returned.

No criminal charges have been filed.


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  • Youngandrestless Sep 12, 2007

    As a parent, I have had three children enrolled in SVHS over the last six years. The school has gone down hill with each passing year. The "gentleman" in question, has made remaks that my children have over heard that were totally out of line for a
    person in his position. One such remark was made to a female student. These remarks were made long before any of this was brought to light. In the times that I have had contact within SVHS, which was weekly, I have felt nothing but disappointment for the condition of this school system. No one seems to have any control over the students, or the classrooms. As for the
    black and white issue, I have seen first-hand the difference
    that was made by this schools administration, depending on the
    students race. I for one am not surprized at any of these charges. My children have been watching and talking about all that has gone on there for the last two school years. P.S. I did
    not send my childen back to SVHS this school year
    two school year

  • tooblessed Sep 12, 2007

    Sad to say but this goes on much more than we realize. Unfornately, it happens in very high paying positions becuse a lot of victims fear being black balled, it goes unreported.

  • skinnycow Sep 12, 2007


    I am never anyones favorite anything. I am honored..LOL..Most of the comments posted on stories really have nothing to do with the story itself. It is more about the comments already posted. Either agreeing or disagreeing to prove or disprove a point. I find the comments section to be more interesting than the actual story. I really think 80% of people read comments and then post and bypass the story all together. I must say, it does make for some interesting reading material. Would do you think? LOL

  • Phlootang Sep 12, 2007

    Not ALL public schools are ineffective. That someone graduated from an adequate school or was able (through his/her own personal ability/family support) to compensate for institutional deficits does not negate the appearance that a number of schools are merely 'big daycare centers.' Disagreements persist b/c each party refuses to acknowledge the possibility that (1) some schools are merely baby sitting centers and (2) some schools contribute to the production of skilled learners. Using anomalies to prove a point is misguided and myopic. But, again, what does this have to do with the article?

  • diana123 Sep 12, 2007

    what a dog

  • Myrrdin Sep 12, 2007

    "Nothing is taught in public school its just a big daycare. Yea its sad to say, but i might as well tell the truth." Stephanie_a_m

    Dang!! In need to change my doctor, my lawyer, my. . . well the list goes on and on! Not a single one of them was homeschooled nor went to private schools. That means that they must be self taught or uneducated and I certainly can't trust THAT!

  • nunyabizness Sep 12, 2007

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

  • Phlootang Sep 12, 2007

    It's funny that these posts are becoming much more about the posters than the story itself. Imagine how these people are when not behind a keyboard. Maybe posters should have blogs - I am sure we would all flood their blogs b/c the insight here is dulling. (This current post has nothing untoward to say about GG, who is Phlootang's new favorite poster).

  • joey2 Sep 12, 2007

    You can take the monkey out of the jungle, however, You cant take the jungle out of the monkey. Flag This

  • gopanthers Sep 12, 2007