Former New Hanover County Schools teacher Peter Michael Frank will soon appear in court to begin his trial after being charged with 29 counts of sex abuse.
Frank was originally scheduled to appear in court Jan. 24 to begin the trial, but it was postponed and a new date has not been selected, said Nazneen Ahmed, the press secretary for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Ahmed said the date was pushed back due to concerns around the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. It's unclear when a new date will be set.
Frank was charged on Jan. 24, 2020, and later fired by the New Hanover County Board of Education after he was accused of several sexual offenses dating back to 1999 and as recently as 2019, when he was a band director at Roland-Grise Middle School. He was indicted on 29 counts including first-degree sexual offense; statutory sex offense with a person who is 13, 14 or 15; sexual activity with a student; and indecent liberties with a student. His alleged victims were students at Roland-Grise during those years.
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A class action lawsuit was filed against the board of education over teacher-student sexual abuse, naming Frank. In light of Frank’s arrest, the district’s then-Superintendent Tim Markley and then-Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources John Welmers resigned from their positions.
Frank was arrested after law enforcement received a complaint from a 30-year-old former student, who said Frank allegedly picked her up from the beach one day and drove her to his home where he kissed her. Law enforcement found several other alleged incidents, including Frank making inappropriate comments on social media about a student in a bathing suit, taking one of his students home to play video games and keeping a bottle a 13-year-old student had used to simulate oral sex.
After Frank’s arrest, police obtained his personnel file, which revealed the former teacher had been counseled several times by New Hanover County Schools for alleged “inappropriate relationships” with students.
He also allegedly told law enforcement he was attracted to middle-school-aged girls, the StarNews reported, and photos of “clothed-backsides of female students” were allegedly found on his phone and computer.
The case was directed to Bladen County after it was handed to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office by New Hanover District Attorney Ben David for a conflict of interest. Frank’s defense team also argued the case was getting too much publicity in New Hanover County.
Bruce Mason, Frank's attorney, declined to comment on the upcoming court date. Ahmed also declined to comment further because the case is ongoing.
Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Former New Hanover teacher's sex abuse trial postponed due to COVID-19