Local News

Dunn Teacher Suspended; Investigators Sifting Through His Past

Posted October 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The investigation into a Cumberland County teacher accused of child molestation is widening. More potential victims are stepping forward and it appears this case could involve years of child abuse.

An investigator in Dunn told WRAL-TV5'sRick Gallthat more victims are coming forward, both male and female. Most were between the ages of 6 - 13 at the times they say they were abused. Some of the accusations date back to the early 1980's.

Thus far, Bill Bates, 53, is charged with molesting a 6-year-old Dunn girl. According to court papers, the child and another accuser have told police that Bates took nude photos of them. Investigators have entered Bates' home with a search warrant where they confiscated several cameras and a number of photographs.

Investigators will not discuss that aspect of the search at this time pending further investigation.

Bates is married and a father. His arrest sent shock waves through the Pine Forest Middle School in Cumberland County, just north of Fayetteville, where he has worked for the past 22 years teaching art and social studies. He is well known for wearing appropriate costumes during his lessons on the Civil War.

Pine Forest Principal Marvin Lucas says Bates was like by students.

Parent Delores Stern has children at Pine Forest. She says they like Bates.

Student Shannon Ray said she has always thought Bates was "cool".

Lucas says he knows of no student at Pine Forest who has accused Bates of abuse.

A teacher told Gall that there is some concern about Bates' health because he has had some heart problems in the past. Currently, he is in the Harnett County jail being held on $120,000 bond. He has been suspended without pay from his teaching job and the superintendent of schools has recommended that he be fired.

Bates currently faces three charges. All of the surround charges made by the same 6-year-old girl.