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Police checking area schools after former Triangle principal charged with exploitation

Posted July 16, 2015

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— One day after a former Triangle principal was arrested in a child predator sting, police said Thursday they plan to check with five schools in Durham and Wake counties to see if any former students were victimized.

Boone police charged Ralph David Dennis, 60, of 2905 Stone Gap Court in Raleigh, with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, soliciting a child by computer and indecent liberties with a child – all felonies. He has been released from jail on a $200,000 bond.

Police said a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl began communicating with someone who posted an online personal ad looking for a young girl for sex. Dennis was arrested when he showed up at a the site where the "girl" and the poster had arranged to meet.

Dennis was the principal at Cary High School from 2005 to 2007 and Daniels Middle School from 1998 to 2005. Before that, he was a principal in Durham, at Chewning Middle School from 1995 to 1998, at Little River Elementary School from 1990 to 1995 and at Eno Valley Elementary School from 1989 to 1990.

A spokeswoman for the Wake County Public School System said he retired from Cary High. He has not been been charged with any other crimes.

Dennis is now an assistant professor and coordinator of special education teacher certification at Campbell University.

"I was beyond shocked when I saw his picture on social media," Campbell student Brandy Jones said. "I couldn't and then didn't want to believe it was him."

Jones said Dennis has taught her special education, autism and educational psychology classes, and she described him as patient, organized and helpful.

"He always helped others, answered students' questions," she said. "Always made time for people. He dressed and acted appropriately. I never saw or heard anything that would indicate him being this way."

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