A former intern in the athletic program at Watauga High School has been arrested on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Frank Darrell Cromwell, age 22, was arrested on February 26th and charged with 5 counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 4 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
All of the charges are felonies. A judge issued a $100,000 secured bond to Cromwell, which he posted and was released. His next court date is March 22nd.
The investigation into Cromwell involved the Boone police, the Watauga Sheriff’s Department and Special Agents from the SBI’s Computer Crimes Unit.
Search warrants for Cromwell’s apartment show law enforcement confiscated a Galaxy cell phone, two iPhones, and three T-mobile phones. Police also found a Surface Pro, an HP ProBook, and a zip drive storage device.
According to court documents, the alleged incidents involved minor boys between the ages of 15 and 17 and Snapchat was used by Cromwell to pose as a female in order to “entice minors into creating images/video of child exploitation material.”
Court documents also show that Cromwell promised the boys a woman would pay for the images and that he would give them the money. The alleged incidents took place Cromwell was involved in an athletic internship at Watauga High School.
The internship was a function of Appalachian State University and Cromwell was not an employee of Watauga County Public Schools, according to the district’s spokesperson Garrett Price. Cromwell was only active at Watauga High during the 2017-18 school year according to the district.
Watauga Police are still investigating and the Watauga school district is now conducting its own investigation. Appalachian State has stated that they are cooperating with both investigations.
Cromwell was also involved as a wrestling coach in 2018-19 in Wilkes County Public Schools and served as wrestling coach at West Wilkes Middle School.
Wilkes County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Byrd issued a statement saying that the district was cooperating with law enforcement and that “protecting our students is, as always, our number one priority.”
According to Superintendent Byrd, Cromwell was employed with DayMark Recovery Services. Bryd indicates that Daymark provides ‘services’ to the district.
According to the Daymark Recovery Services website, the organization is “a non-profit organization established to provide comprehensive behavioral healthcare services as defined by those in the community in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment options.”
In October of 2018, the Journal Patriot reported that a Daymark Counselor out of the Wilkes office, Katrina Bullock, was charged with “assault by strangulation and misdemeanor child abuse as a result of an incident involving a 9-year-old male student at C.C. Wright Elementary School.”