WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A band teacher who has spent more than 20 years with New Hanover County Schools made his first court appearance on a dozen child sex crimes charges.
Peter Frank, 47, appeared in court via a video conference on Tuesday afternoon.
He’s charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child and six counts of indecent liberties with a student by a teacher. Each count carries a maximum of 59 months in prison.
Investigators say the crimes began in 2003 and most recently in 2019 dealing with six victims. Prosecutors said one of the victims is a current student.
In court, District Attorney Ben David revealed he is turning the case over to the NC Attorney General’s Office because of a conflict of interest. An employee in the district attorney’s office, who attended Roland Grise years ago, will serve as a witness because one of their friend’s reported being assaulted by Frank. David said his office was made aware of that report in the beginning of January.
“They were classmates at the time in Roland Grise 16 years ago when this young woman was a student and so was my employee. She relayed to my employee that inappropriate contact had happened with Mr. Frank,” David said.
Frank began working with New Hanover County Schools in 1997. Frank was suspended with pay December 3, 2015 while an investigation was completed. Six days later, he was suspended without pay for 10 days for an incident not involving a student. No word on what that investigation was concerning.
“We frequently tell our children that if they see something, they should say something,” David said. ‘I go to every middle school and every high school every year in this district, including to Roland Grise back in December. I’ve been doing that for as long as those young women were in school. Now they’re not young anymore and neither am I. What I will say, is that we as adults need to model that behavior too.”
One parent, who has been vocal with the school board about taking a tougher stance on sexual misconduct, was not surprised at Frank’s arrest.
“I reported it nine months ago, and I’m wondering if, in that nine-month period, some other student has been assaulted,” Lynn Shoemaker said.
Shoemakers says she got a message on social media nine months ago about alleged misconduct.
“That her sister was a victim of a teacher in middle school, and that she’s suffering PTSD because he’s still teaching in the same school, and it was her band teacher,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker says she emailed the school board, but was told unless she had a name of a specific teacher, they could not investigate.
“How many students were harmed by this person from the first time he was reported?” Shoemaker said.
WWAY reached out to New Hanover County Schools, who told us Frank is currently on suspension and has been since Thursday.
In court, Frank was denied a court-appointed attorney.
Frank’s bond will remain at $750,000. If he posts bail, he can not have contact with children, must remain on ankle monitoring, and can not be on school grounds. He will also be on curfew from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
This is an ongoing investigation. David said they are exploring other charges.
If you have any information related to Peter Frank, contact the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office detective line at (910) 798-4260.