Former high school teacher facing new charges for sex crimes

Michael Kelly (Source: New Hanover Co. Detention Center)
Michael Kelly (Source: New Hanover Co. Detention Center)
Updated: Jan. 15, 2019 at 6:06 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A former New Hanover County high school science teacher is facing new charges in an ongoing criminal investigation into inappropriate relationships he had with his students and other minors. Mike Earl Kelly, 49, was recently charged for sex crimes that happened a decade ago against a newly discovered victim.

Kelly has been behind bars since February 2018. He was most recently employed as a science teacher at Isaac Bear Early College High School, and was arrested after a suspicious parent alerted authorities about inappropriate text messages they found between their child and Kelly.

As investigators started looking into the case, they found more victims. Kelly is now facing 59 charges involving close to 20 victims, some as young as 14.

The new charges against him are taking indecent liberties with a child and second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred between February and December of 2009.

Some charges date back to 2003, around the same time a parent filed a complaint with school officials about Kelly’s behavior with students at Laney High School. The mother of one of Kelly’s former students told WECT that she went directly to Kelly with her concerns about his behavior with students in 2003, before going to then-Laney principal Dr. Rick Holliday.

After feeling she was not getting anywhere, Caroline Kuebler said she filed a formal written complaint with New Hanover County Schools’ central office in January 2004.

NHCS Spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum said they have no record of any dismissals, suspensions or demotions due to disciplinary reason prior to Kelly’s arrest in 2018. They added they had not received any complaints either. It is unclear why NHCS has no record of Kuebler’s complaint, that she’d save a copy of for all of these years.

Kelly was fired from his teaching job with NHCS last spring, and is in the New Hanover County Jail awaiting trial under a $2.1 million bond.

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