Law firm launches civil investigation into New Hanover County teacher

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A criminal investigation is underway into a Roland Grise Middle School teacher, charged with child sex crimes. Now, local attorneys have launched their own civil investigation into the matter.

“The stories I have heard so far are horrendous,” says attorney Jim Lea. “These are middle school girls. 12, 13, 14 years old being taken advantage of by their teachers, or teacher.”

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Lea and several fellow attorneys announced their own civil investigation into Frank, who faces 12 counts of child sex crimes.

Lea says their focus is to get compensation for the victims of these alleged crimes.

Earlier this week, the New Hanover County School Board held a press conference on Frank, who is currently suspended without pay.



“We acknowledge that a third arrest for sexual abuse in less than two years is jarring and concerning to everyone,” says board chair Lisa Estep.

However, at that same news conference, Estep declined to answer certain questions about their handling of these misconduct allegations.

Lea and his team also opened a civil investigation into longtime teacher Michael Kelly, who pleaded guilty to sex crimes last year.

Lea says they should not have to be bringing civil action again.

“They did not have the systems in place to protect our children,” Lea says. “They didn’t pay attention to the reports that were made time after time. If they claim they did not know, that’s terrible. They’re negligent. If they did know, it’s even worse.”

Lea says they have already had several victims come forward and he expects there are more to come.

The school board says they are considering releasing parts of Frank’s personnel file.

The board will hold a special meeting Sunday at 4 p.m.