A former Cumberland County Public Schools teacher has been arrested on 56 sex crime charges involving minors and students.
William Landon Smith, age 31, was arrested on Mar. 18 and charged with 27 counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, 28 counts of indecent liberties with a student, and one count of peeping involving a secretly installed imaging device used to arouse or gratify sexual desire.
The long list of charges is similar to that of the long-running case of former teacher New Hanover teacher Michael Kelly, who was convicted on around 60 sex-related charges involving students.
Smith remains in the Cumberland County Jail under a $425,000 secure bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Mar. 21 at the Cumberland County Detention Center.
A breakdown of the charges and possible jail time:
- First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class C felony punishable by 44 to 182 months in prison per count.
- Indecent liberties with a student is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 12 months in prison per count.
- Secretly installing a photographic imaging device to arouse or gratify sexual desire is a Class F felony, punishable by 10 to 41 months in jail per count.
Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright posted about the arrest on his official Facebook page.
Wright’s post says that the investigation has “revealed that Smith was communicating with victims through social media apps such as Snapchat” and that one of the known accounts Smith had been using was “Landonology90″ user qunyt57f5Rf with Snapchat code 704087.
Sheriff Ennis Wright requests that all parents, guardians, and custodians monitor their children’s social media accounts and educate them about internet safety.
“It is essential to know who is communicating with your children. Predators are not everywhere, but they may be anywhere,” said Wright.
According to Wright’s post, the investigation is still ongoing and detectives have not identified all the victims that had contact with William Smith.
Anyone with information is requested to contact Detective S. Odenwelder at 910-677-5477 or Fayetteville / Cumberland County CrimeStoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477).
Crimestoppers’ information may also be submitted electronically by visiting:
http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet or downloading the FREE “P3 Tips” app available for Apple devices in the Apple App Store and available for Android devices in Google Play.
Lindsay A. Whitley, the Associate Superintendent of Communications and Community Engagement for Cumberland County Public Schools confirmed Smith has been a science teacher at Cape Fear High School from Aug. 8, 2018, through Jan. 28, 2022, when according to Whitley, he resigned.
Prior to his resignation, Smith had been suspended with pay since Dec. 2, 2021, signaling that the district had been aware of issues with Smith for several months.
Since his resignation is related to criminal activity allegations, the district is required by state statute to report his departure to the N.C. State Board of Education.
Here is the official statement from the district regarding Smith:
Former CCS Employee Arrested
District officials are aware that a former CCS employee was arrested and charged earlier today based on allegations of inappropriate behavior and interactions with minors. The safety and well-being of our students and staff are always top priorities. When the allegations were brought to our attention, we immediately reported them to law enforcement.
While the allegations are extremely disturbing, they are not representative of the 6,000-plus dedicated employees who serve our students on a daily basis. As a part of regular procedures, Cumberland County Schools conducts extensive background checks on all employees and conducts ethics training for employees. In addition, employees are reminded annually of district procedures and expectations during the CCS Employee Handbook review period.
District officials will continue to cooperate with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office as they lead this investigation.
Procedural Statements/Additional Information
Members of the media should NOT go on campus to interview students, parents, and/or staff members. We politely request that media outlets stay across the street, as to limit disruptions during the instructional day and after-school activities.
Because of personnel confidentiality laws, the district will not elaborate on specific personnel disciplinary actions, but we will answer any procedural questions you might have about standard operating procedures or Board-approved policies.
Questions about any criminal investigation will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Smith has an active and valid teaching license, according to records on file with the state:
License Number: 1225714
Name: Smith, William Landon
License Type: Educator
License Status: Current
Expiration Date: 06/30/2022
Effective Date: 07/01/2021
License Area(s): Science 9-12