WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Schools is now facing a second lawsuit related to allegations of negligence regarding a former teacher accused of sex crimes against students.
The Rhine Law Firm and the Lea/Schultz Law Firm, the same group that has filed suit regarding former NHCS teacher Michael Kelly, filed a new lawsuit this week regarding the allegations against Peter Frank.
Frank, who was a band teacher at Roland Grise Middle School, was arrested in January on counts of indecent liberties with a child and indecent liberties with a student by a teacher. In total, Frank faces at least 29 charges involved seven alleged victims, two of whom are plaintiffs in the new suit. He remains in custody with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
The complaint alleges Frank sexually assaulted the two named plaintiffs while they were middle school students.
Like the Kelly suit, the new action filed in New Hanover County Superior Court is seeking class action on top of the “named” plaintiffs — in this case there are two middle school students referred to as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2”— as attorneys believe there are numerous others who were 12 to 14 years old and taught by Frank in his two decades with the school system.
According to a release from the law firm, victims argue the school district failed to protect them, and they are owed damages in the form of compensation to help address needs for counseling and other remedies.
“But the real reason these folks are suing is that they demand the Board change its policies and ensure that these kinds of acts never happen again in our schools. It’s time for the Board to take the lead and become a model for other school districts rather than serve as the poster child for permissiveness,” added Martin Ramey, one of the attorneys working on the case.
A NHCS spokesperson said the district has no comment on the new filings at this time.
***Warning: The remainder of this story contains graphic details involving the sexual exploitation of minors. Reader discretion is advised***
Filings in the suit detail the experiences of two of Frank’s former students.
One, the complaint alleges, was preyed on by Frank beginning in 1999 when she enrolled in band class.
According to the documents, Frank’s contact with the student began with leaving notes and gifts, but soon escalated into physical contact, up to and including sex acts over the course of two years.
The complaint alleges Frank performed oral sex on the student while they were in the band room or his office, just after school hours.
Documents further allege the “relationship," which would have been non-consensual due to the fact the student was a minor, was “common knowledge” around the Roland Grise campus — including among employees — to the point the student was teased and harassed by her classmates.
Notes written by the student detailing her contact with Frank were reportedly intercepted by faculty.
Upon finding out Frank had allegedly invited the student to his home, administrators reportedly “investigated” the incident, but the complaint claims no one ever followed up.
Those warrants also detail a fact mirrored by the complaint’s outline of what happened to Jane Doe 2 — including that Frank kept a soda bottle he asked the student to simulate a sex act on. According to further warrants in the case, Frank was believed to have kept numerous mementos from his contact with students over the years.
After being arrested on Jan. 27, Frank was fired by the school system on Feb. 15, about a week after Superintendent Tim Markley abruptly resigned without directly addressing the growing outrage from the community.
Last week attorneys announced four new victims had signed on to their lawsuit over Michael Kelly, a case that has gained “exceptional” status from the court.