Local News

Principal Resigns Amid Harassment Allegations

Posted September 11, 2007 8:57 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2007 10:32 p.m. EDT

— The principal of Southern Vance High School has resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed a teacher.

James Pickens stepped down as principal during Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

The teacher filed a civil suit in Vance County Superior Court alleging that since March, Pickens has made sexually suggestive and degrading comments to her at school.

In the complaint, the woman alleged Pickens grabbed her, pulled her to him, forceably kissed her and fondled her.

The complaint also claimed Pickens has a history of committing similar acts against women that he supervises.

The allegations caught School Superintendent Norman Shearin by surprise.

"I fell out of my chair almost," said Shearin.

Shearin and the Board of Education are also listed as defendants in the complaint. The victim claimed Pickens' had a history of sexual harassment and that administrators knew it before hiring him. Shearin denied that was the case.

The accuser took a leave of absence from the school because of emotional distress.

Telephone calls by WRAL-TV 5 to Pickens' house Tuesday were not returned.

No criminal charges have been filed.