Local News

School contract worker and registered sex offender faces new charges

Posted May 28, 2015 12:24 p.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2015 10:06 p.m. EDT

Paul Conner

— A registered sex offender who worked at Fayetteville's Freedom Christian Academy was charged Thursday with violating the sex offender registry guidelines.

Paul Conner, 50, of Mosswood Lane in Fayetteville, is charged with three counts of violating the sex offender registry guidelines and one count of conspiracy, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

The school's principal, Joan Dayton, submitted a leave of absence to school officials Friday amid an investigation into claims that she allowed Conner to work at the school and that administrators changed student grades.

Dayton has not been charged, but is named in Conner's arrest warrant as a co-conspirator.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office began looking into the school in March after an unidentified parent withdrew her children after discovering Dayton knowingly allowed Conner to work there during the 2011-12 academic year, the department said. Conner’s wife was a teacher at the school during that time, deputies said

Under state law, a convicted sex offender cannot live within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school or child care center or “work at any place where a minor is present and the person’s responsibilities or activities would include instruction, supervision or care of a minor or minors.”

Deputies served a search warrant at the school on May 20. Along with collecting items in relation to Conner, investigators also sought “documentary and computer evidence” related to allegations of academic fraud where athletes and other favored students had their grades changed “to increase the reported level of performance” while students not favored by administrators had their grades reduced.

The school was recently issued a subpoena by deputies to produce all records related to Conner's employment at the school and the changing of student grades.

Conner was being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $45,000 secured bond. He is expected to make his first court appearance Friday.