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Teacher: Ex-headmaster pulled down her pants to see tattoo

Posted September 24, 2013
Updated September 27, 2013

— A former teacher at a Zebulon charter school on Tuesday described for jurors in the trial of her former boss how he approached her after a staff meeting two years ago and made inappropriate comments toward her before pulling down part of her pants to see a tattoo.

"(He said) 'You can't wear those pants again,'" the teacher testified of the Aug. 11, 2011, encounter she had with Brandon Smith, the former headmaster at East Wake Academy. "I said,' Why? Are they inappropriate?' He said, 'No. I just might not be able to control myself.'"

Smith then, without her permission, slipped her pants below her left buttock, the teacher said, where she felt his hand on her skin.

"He said, "I hope you don't mind if I look at your tattoo again,'" said the teacher, whom WRAL is not identifying due to the sexual nature of the charges in the case.

She testified Monday that, on a previous occasion, she had shown a group of people, including Smith, the part of the lower-back tattoo that was above the pants line.

It wasn't until March 2012 that she reported the August incident to police – two months after she told the school's board of directors.

"I was shocked. I was disgusted," the teacher testified about why she waited. "I didn't want anybody to know. It's not something you want to tell everyone that happened. I didn't want to lose my job if I said something."

Smith – East Wake Academy's longtime headmaster – was eventually fired and later charged with two counts of sexual battery and two counts of assault on a female stemming from the complaint, as well as similar allegations by another school employee.

He has denied the charges, which defense attorneys have suggested are motivated by a civil lawsuit the women filed in response to a defamation claim he initially filed against them.

Brandon Smith Teacher details ex-headmaster's alleged misconduct

On cross-examination, the teacher admitted to never confronting Smith about his alleged inappropriate behavior but said she didn't because she feared losing her job.

She also admitted to sending him emails about personal matters and inviting him out for coffee prior to the August incident.

Attorney James Hairston also questioned her at length about the lawsuit and how much money she was demanding from his client.

"You can't recall not one dollar amount that your attorneys asked for from the defendant to settle this case? That's your testimony?" Hairston asked at one point.

"Yes, sir, that's my testimony," the teacher replied. "It's never been about money. I just wanted it over."

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said in opening statements Monday that neither of the alleged victims knew each other initially and that neither had a reason to get Smith in trouble.

Shekita tried to call other school employees to help establish a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Smith and a work atmosphere in which he intimidated employees and caused them to fear for their jobs.

A school administrator testified that Smith would turn on music in his office and dance with female employees. In addition to inappropriate comments, she recalled one summer how he pulled off her sandal to see a tattoo on her foot.

"I told him I did not like that and that it was inappropriate," she said.

But she never confronted him about any other behavior, she said. That included several other occasions when Smith allegedly walked up behind her and squeezed her shoulders.

"He said, you're my property from 7:30 until 4," the administrator said.

"I just froze, because he made it clear that he was in control, and it was his way or the highway," she added later.

The administrator finally went to the school's board of directors in 2004, she said, after seeing him squeeze the shoulders of another employee and commenting to a student something about if he were 20 years younger.

She said on cross-examination that Smith's behavior toward her stopped and that she didn't have any other problems with him.

But that was partly because she was transferred to another department in the school and also because she was never alone with him again, she said.

42 Comments

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  • stormwaterguy Sep 25, 2013

    If my boss touches me, he would be pulling back a nub where his hand used to be.

  • stormwaterguy Sep 25, 2013

    How did Smith know the tattoo was on her heiney? Did the teacher tell him? And why would anyone tell their boss they have a tattoo on their heiney.

  • dirkdiggler Sep 25, 2013

    "ANOTHER REASON EWA HAS SO MANY PROBLEMS, THE DUMB PARENTS"

    What is this plethora of problems to which you refer? The fact that it's an honor school of excellence? The fact that there are no drug, gang, or bullying issues going on at school? The fact that the 'dumb' parents are involved and volunteering a minimum of 8 hours a month to help support the school and their children's education? Please, enlighten me about 'all the problems' our school has. Looks like to me, we have two less problems than we had previously, and a lot less problems than most schools in this lovely county.

  • josephlawrence43 Sep 25, 2013

    must have been one interesting tattoo.!!

  • Scubagirl Sep 25, 2013

    shone = a simple past tense and past participle of shine.

    shown = a past participle of show.

  • SingleLensReflex.SLR Sep 25, 2013

    "She also admitted to sending him emails about personal matters and inviting him out for coffee prior to the August incident"..

    Clarence Thomas has to redeem himself as a role model. Maybe the legal system can teach the basics of a functioning civilization to both of these clueless players.

  • Whosays Sep 25, 2013

    Listen to the video, his attorney says, "he did it" in August 2011.
    LOL

  • itsmyownopinion Sep 25, 2013

    Don't tell me my post is a duplicate when you didn't post it the first time.

    The witness is not under indictment, so don't try to put her there. Showing a group her body art may not have been her finest moment, but as you can see, she was not the only employee of the school that accused him of inappropriate behavior.

    Quote from article: "Smith – East Wake Academy's longtime headmaster – was eventually fired and later indicted on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of sexual assault stemming from the complaint, as well as similar allegations by another school employee."

    School employees need to control themselves, whether they are teachers, janitors, bus drivers...whatever. I can understand her being afraid to report him when it happened for fear of losing her job.

  • dawggydawg Sep 25, 2013

    THE ONES OF YOU SAYING YOU'RE GLAD SHE ISN'T WORKING AT OUR SCHOOL JUST BECAUSE SHE SHOWED SOMEONE HER TATTOO NEED TO BE CHECKED AND REEVALUATED,ANOTHER REASON EWA HAS SO MANY PROBLEMS, THE DUMB PARENTS.

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 25, 2013

    This guy carries all of the warning signs of a rapist.

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