Former East Wake Academy headmaster sentenced

October 1, 2013 1:44:04 PM PDT
A Wake County jury found former East Wake Academy headmaster Brandon Smith guilty Monday on two of four counts Monday. They said they could not reach a verdict on the two remaining charges.

Prosecutors said the former administrator at the Zebulon charter school sexually harassed two women who work there. Smith was fired in March 2012 after the women made the allegations. He was charged with two counts of sexual battery and assault on a female. The jury found him guilty on one count of sexual battery and one count of assault on a female.

One of the alleged victims testified that he pulled down the back of her pants and asked to look at a tattoo. The other said he hugged her and pressed his clothed erection against her crotch.

During the trial, Smith's attorneys tried to discredit the women - saying their stories have changed. They also tried to play down the testimony of other witnesses who testified Smith made inappropriate sexual comments to them.

At his sentencing, Smith told Superior Court Judge Carl Fox that he maintains his innocence and said the accusations have cost him his career.

Judge Fox told Smith that while he was apparently a good educator, he created a "school of horrors" for some of his employees - and likened Smith's behavior to something out of the 1940s or 50s.

While prosecutors suggested Smith receive counseling, Judge Fox said unless a person admitted he needs help that counseling was about as good as "putting paint on water."

Fox sentenced Smith to four months behind bars in the county jail with credit for time served Monday. Lawyers and the judge worked through sentencing technicalities on Tuesday and came up with the same sentence.

Prosecutors say they will retry Smith on the charges that the jury could not reach a verdict.

"At this point it is my intention to retry him on those offenses," said Shekita.

Soon after the women's accusations about his alleged conduct were made public, Smith sued them in civil court saying he was being slandered. That case was dismissed. A counter suit filed by the women against Smith and the school's board is still pending.

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