Man from Salisbury accused of having sex with teen
A Jacksonville high school instructor originally from Rowan County has been arrested and accused of having sex with a student.
Christopher David Howard, 33, the band teacher at Jacksonville High School, was charged Wednesday with three counts of sexual activity with a student by a teacher and four counts of indecent liberties with a student.
The female student is 17 years old, authorities said. The relationship may have started in 2007, they said.
According to Post files, Howard graduated with honors in 1997 from West Rowan High School, where he played trumpet in the jazz and marching bands. He earned his Eagle Scout award in 1994 by collecting 214 pairs of donated blue jeans for Rowan Helping Ministries.
He graduated cum laude from East Carolina in June 2001 and was hired that summer at Jacksonville High School, where he is also chairman of the Fine Arts Department and was teacher of the year in 2010-11, according to the high school’s 2011-12 band handbook.
The Jacksonville Daily News reported an investigation began May 23 when a patrolling sheriff’s deputy found Howard’s and the girl’s vehicles parked along an isolated road about 9 miles from Jacksonville High School and 4 miles from Howard’s home.
The Daily News story said Onslow Sheriff’s Deputy Matheu Becker reported seeing the girl’s legs standing inside the open door of Howard’s SUV and that Howard “peeked out” of the cabin area of the vehicle.
The deputy checked the tags on Howard’s vehicle, then pulled over the teenager’s car as she was driving away, the newspaper reported. The girl initially claimed she’d been meeting a fellow student, but admitted it was Howard after the deputy told her he knew who the man was and that he was married.
Serving a search warrant on Howard’s house and vehicles, authorities found evidence suggesting the relationship between Howard and the girl may have started after a 2007 band concert, the Daily News reported.
State law makes it a felony a felony for a teacher to have sex with a student unless they are married.
Onslow County Schools released a statement to the Jacksonville paper saying Howard had been suspended pending the investigation.
Howard has been released from the Onslow County jail after posting bond, according to online records.
Howard is the second Rowan County native in two years to be charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student at an eastern North Carolina school.
Sara Leann Dwiggins was charged in 2010 with having sex with a student at the Martin County middle school where she taught math and science. Dwiggins, who was 24 at the time, was ordered to return to Salisbury and live with her mother while awaiting trial.
That case is still pending, Martin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Drew Robinson said today.