Ex-school employee accused of molesting student dies while awaiting trial

Updated: Nov. 4, 2019 at 1:04 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A former special education assistant indicted last year on charges that he sexually assaulted one of his students has died while awaiting trial.

Nicholas Lavon Oates, 40, died Sunday around 9:45 a.m. at New Hanover Regional Medical Center due to a pre-existing medical condition, according to Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

Brewer said Oates had been battling the unspecified condition since his initial arrest in July 2018. Oates had remained in the New Hanover County Jail since that arrest. His next court appearance was scheduled for Nov. 12.

Oates was accused of molesting a then-12-year-old student at Myrtle Grove Middle School in 2016, and then beginning a sexual relationship with her after she turned 13.

Last year, a grand jury indicted him on two dozen charges that included:

  • Indecent liberties with a child (5 counts)
  • Statutory rape of a child under 15 (7 counts)
  • Second-degree kidnapping (4 counts)
  • Indecent liberties with a student (4 counts)
  • Sexual activity with a student (4 counts)

Though the alleged inappropriate relationship apparently began in 2016, Oates had only been charged for incidents occurring in June and July of 2018, according to the grand jury indictments.

Oates was initially hired by New Hanover County Schools on Jan. 16, 2016 as a special education assistant at Myrtle Grove Middle School. During his tenure, he was suspended twice without pay over alleged misconduct.

The first suspension occurred on Dec. 2, 2016, while the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office investigated text messages exchanged between him and the alleged female victim, as well as other students. The messages – at least some of which were sexually suggestive – were ultimately deemed not criminal, and Oates was reinstated on Dec. 13, 2016.

A month later, Oates was suspended without pay again, this time after teachers came forward with allegations of misconduct. That suspension lasted until Oates resigned on Feb. 1, 2017.

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