Trial for former NHCS teacher accused of sex crimes with student will continue next week
BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Peter Frank sat calmly beside his attorney in court Friday morning as the jurors who will eventually decide his fate heard testimony from another one of his alleged victims.
In this case, Frank faces 17 charges relating to sexual offenses and indecent liberties with a student from 1998 to 2000, when the alleged victim was a student in Frank’s band class at Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington.
Frank does face other charges and a civil lawsuit from several other alleged victims, but those will go to trial at a later date. Still, the state called one of those women to the witness stand Friday morning.
***Warning: This story contains graphic details about the alleged victim’s testimony***
This alleged victim says she was a student at Roland-Grise from 2001 to 2004. While she was never in the school band, she says she spent time near the band room and would see Frank when her friends would drop off their instruments in the morning.
The witness says she would chat with Frank online when she was in middle school. The two began talking on the phone around the time the alleged victim was dealing with the aftermath of a family tragedy.
“He gave me attention when I wanted it,” the alleged victim testified Friday.
The alleged victim says she became closer with Frank on a trip to New York City in the summer after her 8th grade year. The trip involved a group of students involved in the school’s musical production that year. She says Frank was one of the chaperones.
On the bus ride home from New York, the alleged victim says she and Frank “snuggled” while sitting towards the back of the bus. After the trip, she says she felt closer than ever to Frank, mentioning that he gave her a note that she later lost.
Later that summer, the alleged victim says she went to the beach with a friend and met Frank later that same day. She says she went to lunch with Frank before he drove her to his home, and then back to her home.
The alleged victim says Frank kissed her at her home before he left that day.
As her testimony continued, the state asked this alleged victim to read a letter she wrote to Frank as part of a school assignment in 8th grade. In that letter, she told Frank, “I love you more than you know.” This alleged victim also says she gifted Frank a CD with songs burned onto it, similar to a mixtape.
This witness also read a note she says Frank wrote in her 8th grade year book, which included, “stay in touch, you know the number,” and “love ya, sweetie.”
This alleged victim says she reached out to a friend at the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office in January 2020 about her experiences with Frank, and later joined the civil lawsuit against Frank and the New Hanover County Board of Education.
In court Friday morning, the jury also heard testimony from Lavern Gurganioius, the principal at Roland-Grise during the time Frank was allegedly involved with the student relating to the charges in this case.
Gurganioius says he sent Frank a letter after the alleged victim spoke with school authorities about a night she spent with Frank at his apartment when they were supposed to see a concert in Myrtle Beach. He says Frank was told his actions were inappropriate and the letter would be added to his personnel file.
The alleged victim testified earlier this week that she did not disclose the extent of her relationship with Frank at the time she spoke to school officials in November 1999 because she did not want Frank to get in trouble.
The jury will return to the courthouse at 10:00 a.m. Monday, where witness testimony is expected to continue. The state plans to show the jury part of Frank’s interview with detectives following an investigation in early 2020.
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