Local News

Quaker school says former principal inappropriately touched students

Posted June 11
Updated June 16

— The head of a Quaker school in Durham says the school has learned of sexual misconduct allegations involving a principal and several students enrolled at the school nearly 40 years ago.

Mike Hanas, principal for Carolina Friends School, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the discovery comes following an independent review into claims the school received in 2012.

Five former students who were enrolled in the lower and middle schools between 1969 and 1975 shared accounts of inappropriate touching, and one student reported inappropriate touching by a former teacher in 1976.

The allegations involve students who were over 6 years old, although Hanas did not say what ages.

"This news is heartbreaking," he said in a news release. "Even though these events occurred four decades ago, we are keenly aware that the passage of time has not diminished the impact of these events."

In a letter to parents, he said the school contacted the teacher who "did not wish to deny or contradict" the claims and "expressed remorse for the anguish and harm he had caused."

A day later, the teacher committed suicide, Hanas said.

The school also reached out to the principal but has not heard back from him, Hanas said.

"We are sorry for the loss of opportunity for our community and for him to pursue some measure of restorative justice," he added.

The school, which serves students in Durham and Chapel Hill, is cooperating with authorities, and Hanas said that anyone with similar claims to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Office at 919-644-3050.

"While law enforcement has shared that the acts in question may be beyond the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, their review remains open," he said.

Carolina Friends School opened in 1964 and has approximately 490 students between the ages of 3 and 18.

"Our first responsibility at CFS is the wellbeing of our students – past, current and future," Hanas said. "We are fiercely determined to learn from this experience and will do everything in our power to prevent it from happening again."

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, Hanas said.

15 Comments

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  • Genie v2.0 Jun 12, 1:44 p.m.

    Ok, did you people even READ the story?? Yes, one is still alive and has expressed remorse, so there also goes your innocent until proven guilty questions, additionally they have reached out to Jernigan and his family but not received a reply. READ PEOPLE READ.

  • ncouterbanks69 Jun 12, 1:30 p.m.

    One student a year for 6 years and it was 40 + years ago. Why come forward now ? They might have... View More

    — Posted by blacksuv1962

    So, what level of touching of children by teachers/religious leaders do you find acceptable? ... View More

    — Posted by JustOneGodLessThanU

    Funny how you guys want to punish some criminals but if you do not like the law or the criminal will help your agendas you can turn your eyes.

  • sinenomine Jun 12, 12:33 p.m.

    I have a theory, BLACKSUV1962, completely untested.

    Forty years ago it was predominantly men, largely of the WW II generation (vets and otherwise), who ran things. The commonality of purpose felt during the war was such that people were encouraged to “take one for the team”, in other words to keep their own concerns quiet for the protection of the institution be it the country, the church, the school, or whatever. I think that many of the coverups we are learning of now were seen at the time as being for the common good and they are only now coming to be seen as having been misguided. It is also the case that sexual deviancy, however one defines that term, was widely thought in earlier times to be subject to change through psychiatric treatments or similar interventions and that attitude I am sure would also have entered into the decision making process.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 12, 12:25 p.m.

    One student a year for 6 years and it was 40 + years ago. Why come forward now ? They might have... View More

    — Posted by blacksuv1962

    So, what level of touching of children by teachers/religious leaders do you find acceptable? Specifically.

    And, if the incidents with the children in this story exceed your limits of acceptabililty, what should we do with the molesters? Slap their wrist? Give ‘em a good scolding? ...do nothing at all?

  • blacksuv1962 Jun 12, 12:00 p.m.

    One student a year for 6 years and it was 40 + years ago. Why come forward now ? They might have been spanked , who knows. Touching 40 years ago and today is completely different. We grew up with "sticks and stones" and today if you say something to someone they don't like they can sue you for all you have. Why is this even "NEWS"?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 12, 11:00 a.m.

    It sounds to me as if Mr. Hanas is wonderful and truly understands the importance of both... View More

    — Posted by anneonymousone

    Right. The accuser and the accused can "reconcile" that God wanted and allowed this to happen, otherwise he would have stopped it...so who are we, mere humans, to question Him?

    Next topic?

    (sarcasm)

  • sinenomine Jun 12, 10:58 a.m.

    - The decision of the current school administration to reveal this story is commendable.

    - With regard to Mr. Butcher, who apparently admitted his wrongdoing, I assume that any charges are felonies and there is no statute of limitation on felonies. I would like to see him prosecuted.

    - The former principal, Mr. Jernigan, has not been heard from and yet his name is being broadcast in connection with allegedly having committed a heinous crime. This is inexcusable. Until he or a spokesman were contacted and permitted to comment for the record his name should not have been released.

  • UpChuck Jun 12, 10:20 a.m.

    Is the person who allegedly did it still alive?
    When are schools and school systems going to... View More

    — Posted by "Screen Name-8/20"

    I mean it did happen 40 years ago, so I doubt they had any Polaroids hanging in the corners of the classrooms.

  • anneonymousone Jun 12, 9:45 a.m.

    It sounds to me as if Mr. Hanas is wonderful and truly understands the importance of both researching the allegations and supporting the survivors of these crimes.

    "Reconciliation" need not be making peace between the perpetrator and survivor; it may mean each making peace with themselves and their idea of the Creator of the Universe.

  • JAT Jun 12, 8:39 a.m.

    Aye Dare - there's no evidence that these things occurred only in the classroom. Most of the time, they occur when the teacher has access to the kid outside of school, on trips, visits to the home, etc.

    And, the article states that both men are still alive.

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