NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - As the investigation continues into Peter Frank, the Roland Grise Middle School teacher charged with 12 counts of indecent liberties with a child or student, a new state law aimed at reducing sexual abuse of children comes into sharp focus for one of the legislators behind it.
State Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) said the purpose behind Senate Bill 199 was to strengthen North Carolina’s laws protecting both children and adults who are victims of sexual violence.
The law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Roy Cooper in 2019 makes it a misdemeanor if an adult made aware of evidence of sexual abuse of a child does not report that evidence to law enforcement.
It also adds a requirement for North Carolina schools to provide training for faculty and staff in identifying the signs of sexual abuse and human trafficking.
Finally, it extends the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to file civil action against perpetrators.
In light of the new allegations, Davis said he is more grateful than ever that the bill passed.
“When I am made aware of these types of things happening, and if they are proven to be, that they did actually happen, then I’m very thankful that this type of legislation has been enacted, because once again it will provide protection for the victims that they did not have before,” he said.
Davis said he didn’t want to get into the specifics of the Peter Frank case, as the investigation is still underway and the school district is still embroiled in a separate legal case, but he said he hopes the developments show why the new law is necessary.
“I think it is important because if that type of activity is going on, it should be reported, so that it can be prevented,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate any time this happens, and I’m very sorry for the victims if it did in fact occur,” he said. “And I just hope ... if you get the people in the school system to be more aware of the signs that children may have as a result of being a victim of child sexual abuse or human trafficking, then the better educated they are the more they can pick up on the signs and hopefully be able to bring it to fruition where it can be dealt with.”
The law went into effect on Jan. 1, which was the deadline for schools to have a liaison in place to do the required training.