BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A man who spent nearly a decade working with kids is charged with sex crimes involving children.
Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Andrew Timothy Hodge, 32, last night following a joint investigation with Homeland Security Investigations.
Hodge, of Mt Misery Road, Leland, is charged with four counts of second-degree exploitation of a minor and one count of indecent liberties with a child. According to arrest warrants, the crimes happened between January 1 and September 30, 2017.
“Disgusting. It’s sickening. (He’s) someone that probably needs helps and shouldn’t be a member of society,” Chris DeHart said.
DeHart’s children attended Leland Christian Academy, where Hodge was a teacher assistant. DeHart said he always had a bad feeling about Hodge.
“Even the thought of someone doing something like that with my little girl. Oh man, I wasn’t surprised, though. I was shocked at first, then I was scared for half a second and then I was kind of like I told you so,” DeHart said.
The sexual exploitation charges include photos of an unclothed, unknown girl between the ages of 8 and 10.
He’s also accused of trying to commit a “lewd and lascivious act” on a child under the age of 16.
“A sin is a sin. And I think there is no worse sin then to do anything remotely inappropriately to a child. To think inappropriately about a child is still a sin without even doing it,” DeHart said.
Hodge worked for several years as a TA at Leland Christian Academy, before leaving last year.
Leland Christina Academy Director Jill Barbee issued this statement this afternoon:
“We at Leland Christian Academy and First Baptist Church are deeply saddened to learn of these allegations. The safety and security of our students have always been our first priority. All that we can confirm at this point is that Mr. Andrew Hodge was an employee of Leland Christian Academy, but left the school in August of 2017 to pursue other interests.
“The school has a rigorous screening process in place for individuals working with the children and Mr. Hodge passed each of these criteria, including background checks every three years, the most recent being in July of 2015. There had been no allegations or complaints lodged against Mr. Hodge by parents or staff during his time here, and we are heartbroken to hear of these charges.”
According to Hodge’s Facebook page, he previously worked for Southeastern Preschool Educational Center (SPEC) in Wilmington. The director of the SPEC on Vision Drive confirms Hodge worked there three different times between 2008 and 2013. She was unaware if there had been any complaints lodged against Hodge. She was also not aware of the charges when reached by phone this morning.
Hodge did not say anything about the accusations against him during his first court appearance today. The judge kept Hodge’s bond at $1 million and appointed a public defender. Hodge remains in the Brunswick County Detention Center.
DeHart believes Hodge needs to remain behind bars.
“He’s sick and he needs help. And if for some reason he gets off, he needs to move far far away from this area cause if not, people will be looking for him. I promise you that,” DeHart said.
Hodge is scheduled to be back in court next week.