Former New Hanover County Public Schools band teacher Peter Michael Frank was found guilty this past week on 17 of the 29 charges against him.
On May 17, a jury deliberated for around half an hour before it decided Frank was guilty of 17 sex-crime related charges that include:
- one count of sexual activity with a student
- two counts of first-degree sexual offense
- three counts of indecent liberties with a student
- four counts of statutory sex offense with a person who is 13, 14, or 15
- seven counts of indecent liberties with a child
The trial was swift, beginning on May 9 and concluding in less than a week. Sentencing for Frank will occur at 2:00 p.m. on June 7.
“Protecting kids is job one for us all, and that means keeping them safe from abuse whether they’re at home, online, at camp or at school,” N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said in a press release. “I want to congratulate the head of my Special Prosecutions Section, Boz Zellinger, for his hard work on behalf of the victims and to achieve justice in this case.
Frank’s trial took place in Bladen County instead of New Hanover County due to publicity issues. Due to a conflict of interest with the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, the case was prosecuted by Stein’s office.
Stein also tweeted, “This trial was incredibly difficult for the victims and their families. I thank them for their bravery and hope this verdict gives them some measure of justice and helps them to continue healing.”
“Today’s verdict is not against the school board, but it is against the predator who carried
out his abuse while under the supervision and control of New Hanover County Schools,” said Joel Rhine, of the Rhine Law Firm.
“Yet again, here we go,” said Rhine attorney Jim Lea, referring to the recurring
accounts of teachers being investigated by law enforcement for childhood sexual abuse over the last two decades. “This is just another example of where our district has failed our students and continues to do so by not taking the appropriate steps to help these survivors rather than focus on elections and reporting designed to provide cover to the district in the event of future cases.”
The civil cases against New Hanover County schools involving Frank and Kelly are slated to begin on Sept. 26.
Peter Michael Frank Backstory
Frank was originally charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child and six counts of indecent liberties with a student in January of 2020. The alleged incidents involved at least six students and took place between 2003 and 2019.
At the time he was charged with the first set of crimes, he was 47 years old. He was issued a $750,000 bond which he did not post and Frank still remains incarcerated at the New Hanover County Detention Center.
The N.C. Attorney General’s office would later add to Frank’s list of charges. Stein issued a statement indicating a Grand Jury in New Hanover County had returned an indictment charging Peter Michael Frank with 17 new counts, bringing the total charge count to 29.
New charges included first-degree sexual offense, statutory sex offense with a person who is 13, 14, or 15, sexual activity with a student, indecent liberties with a child, and indecent liberties with a student.