Former teacher of the year charged with indecent liberties with student

Former teacher of the year charged with indecent liberties with student

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A teacher at Isaac Bear Early College High School is in jail under a $1 million bond after he was arrested for sex crimes involving at least five students.

Michael Kelly, 48, was arrested at his home Tuesday night as part of a joint investigation by the FBI and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Kelly has been charged with third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of indecent liberties with a student. The alleged crimes were committed on Isaac Bear's campus, according to the incident report.

He was initially booked into the New Hanover County Jail under a $100,000 bond.

During Kelly's first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors said he had been messaging pornographic images to at least five children at Isaac Bear. Prosecutors said Kelly admitted to at least one felony charge involving a 15-year-old student, who alerted law enforcement.

Prosecutors said additional charges are likely and asked for Kelly's bond to be raised to $2 million.

Before the judge made his decision, he offered Kelly an opportunity to address the court regarding the charges.

"I've done a lot of good work in the school system and I made some bad choices," Kelly said.

The judge opted to set Kelly's bond at $1 million.

If he should make bond, Kelly can't have any contact with the victims or their families, he can't communicate with or be in the presence of any minors, and he is not allowed on any school property.

Kelly's next court appearance is Feb. 22.

WARNING: the following contains graphic detail from an arrest warrant.

Arrest warrants allege that Kelly possessed images of a 15-year-old student "engaging in sexual activity consisting of holding his erect penis in his hand." The alleged offenses happened between Aug. 9, 2017, and Feb. 6, 2018.

According to the Isaac Bear website, Kelly is a science teacher at the school. In 2016, he was named Isaac Bear's teacher of the year.

A spokesperson for New Hanover County Schools said Kelly, who was hired by the school system on Aug. 17, 1992,  has been suspended without pay and proceedings to dismiss him have been initiated.

Officials said the school system is cooperating with all law enforcement agencies involved in the case.

"While we can't discuss the specifics of this case at this time, we take these allegations very seriously," Superintendent Tim Markley said. "Our primary concern is the safety and protection of the students. We will take all steps necessary to ensure this."

Principal MaryPaul Beall sent the following letter to parents of students at Isaac Bear:

Dear Parents:

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