Local News

Warrants detail sex misconduct claims against Zebulon school's headmaster

Posted March 20, 2012 11:42 a.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2012 3:20 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.