A Cumberland County Public Schools teacher is facing multiple counts of indecent liberties after using social media to send explicit messages to a student.
UPDATE: Convicted on January 20, 2022, of a Class 1 misdemeanor of disseminating harmful material to a minor. He was given a suspended sentence and is serving 24 months of supervised probation.
Richard Anthony Thomas Jr., age 31, was arrested by Cumberland County Sheriffs and has been charged with five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.
Indecent liberties with a child is a Class F felony that carries a penalty of 10 to 41 months in prison per instance.
Thomas was taken to the Cumberland County Detention Center with bail set at $375,000 ($75,000 per count).
His first court appearance is today at 2:30 p.m.
An investigation by the Cumberland County Sheriff revealed that Thomas had used emails and the social media app Snapchat to have a sexually explicit conversation with a student.
Thomas teaches sixth-grade English language arts at Ireland Drive Middle School and began employment with Cumberland County Schools in 2014.
Thomas has an active NC teaching license in the area of Elementary Education (K-6). Unless revoked, that license will not expire until Jun. 30, 2022.
Cumberland County Schools says Thomas has been suspended with pay pending an investigation and released the following statement:
“These allegations are extremely disturbing; however, they are not representative of the 3,000-plus dedicated teachers who serve our students on a daily basis. As a part of regular procedures, Cumberland County Schools conducts extensive background checks on all employees.
“Employees are also reminded annually of ‘prohibited relationships with students’ during the CCS Employee Handbook review period. School officials will continue to cooperate with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.”
There have been two other Cumberland County area teachers besides Thomas who were arrested in 2019. Only one, April Caudill, has had the charges dismissed. She has resumed work at the Bill Hefner Elementary.
Loretta Nelson was arrested in January by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for one count of solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act, two counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and three counts of indecent liberties with a student. She was a soccer coach and teaching assistant at Liberty Christian Academy.
A third Cumberland County coach and volunteer was convicted in June after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a 2006 case.
Rodney Scott, age 53, plead guilty to five counts of statutory sex offense with a juvenile between 13 and 15 years old and three counts of indecent liberties with a child and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. He was incarcerated on June 4 at the Craven Correctional Institution, will on the sex offender registry for 30 years and can have no contact with any of his victims.
Thomas is the 64th education employee or teacher-related arrest tracked by this website in 2019.
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