WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A former New Hanover County teacher facing dozens of child sex crimes charges pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning.
Michael Kelly, 50, faced multiple charges, including multiple counts of indecent liberties with a child, indecent liberties with a student and second degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
Kelly will spend between 17 and 31 years behind bars. After that, he will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years.
Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan says 19 victims were involved in charges dating back as far as 2003, all the way up through 2018. Jordan says lifetime restraining order have been entered for six of the victims.
“Really the devastation you see on behalf of these students is something that really comes from, I have found over the years, as just a betrayal of someone who is in authority over them and someone who they are supposed to be able to trust and have confidence in, and their parents are supposed to be able to have confidence in,” Jordan said.
Jordan says that trust was beyond breached by Kelly.
Kelly was a teacher at Isaac Bear Early College High School when he was arrested in February of 2018.
Kelly has remained in the New Hanover County jail under a $2.1 million bond.
Kelly shared pornographic images with some students on Snapchat, had sexual conversations while at school, and texted students sexual images of his genitalia, according to an affidavit for a search warrant for Michael Kelly’s home.
Jordan says for these victims to be heard and believed is extremely valuable.
“For the state’s purposes and for the victims’ as well, we are relieved that they don’t have to take the witness stand,” Jordan said. “That’s one thing that’s of value to us. That they don’t have to come into court and share this pain and trauma with a courtroom full of strangers.”
New Hanover County Schools made a statement in response to Kelly’s guilty plea:
“New Hanover County Schools condemns the actions of Mike Kelly and remains committed to the safety of all students. Once district personnel knew of the allegations, we took immediate action to move for his dismissal.
The district is aware of the statements made in court today by Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan about Mr. Kelly’s recollection of events from 2006. Upon learning about the statements, we contacted two former (retired) NHCS’ administrators Dr. Sherry Broome and Ms. Matilda Gurley, the individuals who served as principal of Isaac Bear Early College High School during the 2006 and 2007 school year and spoke to both of them via phone. Neither Dr. Broome nor Mrs. Gurly investigated an incident involving Mr. Kelly for an allegation of indecent exposure during their tenure as principal. Both principals stated that no such incident was reported to them.
We will follow up with the District Attorney’s Office to discuss this matter.”