[Editor’s note: This article contains material that may be upsetting to some readers.]
WILMINGTON — According to a search warrant, Roland Grise band teacher Peter Frank was counseled by the school system for having “inappropriate relationships” with students for most of his employment at New Hanover County Schools.
The warrant also indicates that Frank admitted to authorities he was attracted to “middle school aged females.” Detectives discovered he kept images of female students on his phone and home computer; some of the images appeared to have been taken without the students’ knowledge, according to the warrant.
The search warrants were issued on Monday, January 27, allowing a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (NHCSO) detective to seize the personnel file of Peter Michael Frank, 47, from the New Hanover County Board of Education.
Frank is charged with 12 felony counts of indecent liberties with students and children, with allegations ranging from 2003 to 2019. The case has been turned over to a special prosecutor with the state Attorney General’s office.
Incident that launched investigation
According to the warrant, NHCSO detectives were made aware of a complaint made by Frank’s former student, who is now at least 30 years old, through the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office.
“The complaint originated from a prior student who informed Detectives when she was middle school aged, she was at Wrightsville Beach surfing. The prior student explained Peter Frank picked her up and drove her to his residence,” according to the warrant.
“After Frank showed her around the residence, he drove her to Carolina BBQ to get food, then drove her back to her residence. The student states she showed Frank her residence while nobody was home, and they walked to a common area of the residence, and Frank kissed her. The student stated she began to feel weird about the incident and asked Frank to leave,” according to the warrant.
This complaint led to the discovery of other alleged incidents.
The warrants also describe an incident that took place around 2003. According to the detective’s statement, a 13-year-old female student used a soda bottle to simulate oral sex. Frank kept the bottle for 17 years as a ‘”memento.” The student would later ask Frank why he kept the bottle; according to the warrant, to which Frank responded: “What man wouldn’t keep that?” Frank
NHCSO detectives recovered the bottle from a filing cabinet at Roland Grise.
NHCS was aware of ‘inappropriate relationships’
Frank was previously suspended without pay in 2015, but NHCS has stated that the incident did not involve students.
However, according to the search warrant, Frank had been ‘counseled’ repeatedly by New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) for inappropriate relationships with students.
“Personnel records for Peter Michael Frank were gathered from Roland Grise Middle School. The records indicate Frank has been counseled on inappropriate relationships with students over his tenure as a teacher at Roland Grise Middle School,” according to a sworn statement from an NHCSO detective.
The warrant notes a specific incident where Frank made an inappropriate comment about a student on social media.
“In Peter Frank’s personnel records from Roland Grise Middle School, a social media post was found where a student had posted a photograph in a bathing suit. Frank comments on the photograph saying, “‘I can’t say really what I want to say, but it might rhyme with lubes,'” according to the detective’s statement.
The warrant notes that a letter dated May 21, 2013, was placed in Frank’s file about the incident. Another letter in his file, dated November 9, 1999, indicated that Frank took a student to his residence and “played video games for several hours.” According to court records, Frank had separated from his wife several months earlier.
Photos and files
After turning himself over to the NHCSO custody, Frank voluntarily allowed his phone to have “data forensically extracted,” according to the warrant.
“Images of middle school aged females were located. The images portrayed the clothed backsides of female students. It is apparent that the students were not aware their photographs were being taken,” according to the warrant.
When detectives questioned Frank about the photos, he admitted to being attracted to middle school aged females, according to the warrant.
Frank then consented to allow detectives to search his home. There, “[d]etectives located files on the computer labeled with female student’s names which contained clothes pictures of the female students,” according to the warrant.
Detectives also asked Frank about the incident in the initial complaint; Frank’s version of the story “coincided” with the allegation. “The only part that is not consistent is where he kissed her,” according to the warrant.
Frank is currently being held on a $750,000 secured bond at the New Hanover County Detention Facility. As of Wednesday, he had been put on unpaid suspension by NHCS.
[Editor’s note: Port City Daily has reached out to NHCS and the Board of Education and will include any comment in future reporting.]
Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at firstname.lastname@example.org, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.