ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 9/10/2020
On February 27, 2019, Rutherford County Schools administrators acknowledged that they had become aware of allegations involving sexual assault by Gunnery Sergeant Eric Currington and Officer Chris Brown against multiple underage students in the ROTC program.
Currington and Brown were instructors in R-S Central High School’s Marine-ROTC program.
Rutherford County Schools administrators stated that they were coordinating with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department in what was, at the time, identified as an ongoing investigation.
Since the original statements by the Rutherford County School administrators, however, a number of developments occurred.
Then-superintendent of Rutherford County Schools, Dr. Janet Mason relinquished her position as superintendent, a move Rutherford Weekly described as a “surprise” to many across the county and educators in the school system. Mason then accepted a position as the Town Manager of Forest City on June 20, 2019. As Mason noted, “I have not worked in municipal government, but leadership transcends arenas, I have things to learn.” After a 33-year tenure as superintendent, the timing of her claimed “retirement” – particularly to assume a role as Town Manager for which she had no experience – raised questions as to the basis of departure.
In the meantime, numerous deputies in the Sheriff’s Office have informed RC Catalyst that the Sheriff’s Office provided District Attorney Ted Bell with sufficient information to prosecute and likely convict both Currington and Brown for unlawful sexual conduct with multiple underage victims.
According to one victim of the officers listed above (who will not be identified for confidentiality concerns, as well as fear of reprisal), one of the training officers responsible for assaulting a female cadet threatened to kill her if she revealed the sexual assaults. This victim had planned to enlist in the military and, before the assaults began, had impeccable academic credentials, was highly motivated, and had a strong work ethic. As a result of the often-violent assaults, one of the sexual assault victims is now fearful for her safety, wrestling with significant issues stemming from the trauma, and has lost her ability to focus on her life trajectory. Her aspirations to join the military were ruined and she continues having difficulty with everyday life.
At the time of this article, requests for comment to Ted Bell, Sheriff Chris Francis, and Janet Mason have gone unanswered. However, Sheriff Francis’ apathy toward insisting the actions of both training (Officers Currington and Brown) raise serious concerns as to why these individuals have escaped prosecution. More concerning, however, is Ted Bell’s refusal to prosecute the alleged rapes of minors.
In light of the widely-shared disbelief thought this community resulting from Ted Bell’s refusal to prosecute former-Chief District Judge Randy Pool for more than, at least, fifty (50) women (known to RC Catalyst at this time) that Pool victimized, Ted Bell’s failure to now protect children who have allegedly been subjected to violent sexual assaults, as well as threatened to remain silent, is difficult to comprehend.
As details regarding District Attorney Ted Bell’s seemingly limitless comfort level with sexual assault continue to surface, RC Catalyst will continue to report on this story (as well as the incidents involving former Judge Pool) and will inform the community as to any comments received from either Sheriff Francis or Ted Bell involving this situation.
Because District Attorney Ted Bell and Sheriff Chris Francis appear to believe they have no obligation to respond to inquiries and concerns expressed by their constituents, however, we encourage you to contact the following outside criminal investigatory entities to report these issues:
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations – (919) 662-4500
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein – (919) 716-6400
Federal Bureau of Investigations – (704) 672-6100
United State Marine Corps. – (866) 243-3887
*Based on our investigation, it appears the US Marine Corps was never contacted regarding the issues discussed in this article.