Quiet Epidemic: Teachers Charges Include Rape, Assault, DWI

The following arrests of North Carolina teachers is an update to our continuing series, A Quiet Epidemic.

Laura Ashley Beard
Laura Ashley Beard - Onslow County - Quiet Epidemic - Teacher Arrests
Laura Ashley Beard

Laura Ashley Beard, 26, of Davis Street in Jacksonville was arrested charged with driving while impaired and civil revocation of her driver’s license.  When pulled over around 2 a.m. during the the July 4th holiday weekend, Beard blew a 0.19 on the breathalyzer.

Beard is a 10th grade English teacher at Jacksonville High School in Onslow county, according to the school’s website.

Beard’s teacher page at the schools says that, “She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and is thankful to be working back in Onslow County, especially at the greatest high school in Jacksonville!”

Court documents stated she could be released to a “sober and responsible adult.  A $500 bond was set for her release.  According to N.C. Court records, a court date is scheduled for Sept. 5, 2017.


Taji Brown
Taji Brown - CMS - Quiet Epidemic - Teacher Arrests
Taji Brown

Brown has been accused of inappropriately touching several young boys during a summer camp that he held at his home over the summer. The name of the camp is  “G.U.D.B.O.Y.S.” (Gentlemen Understanding Destiny By Overcoming Your Statistics). He is also charged with and assaulting some of them.

The official charges are two counts of indecent liberties with a child and two counts of indecent liberties with a student.

Brown is a 5th-grade teacher at Billingsville Elementary School in Charlotte.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg School district has suspended him with pay. Brown also worked at Rama Road Elementary School from 2011 to 2015.

WNCN obtained details of the search warrant for Brown’s home and they are disturbing.

At least four male children, ages 10 to 11 reported being punched, hit with a belt, touched and ‘washed on the genitals’ by Brown when showering. They also report he would have some of them sleep in the same bed with him.

Lee Annette Williams
Lee Annette Williams - Davidson - Quiet Epidemic - Teacher Arrests
Lee Annette Williams

Lee Annette Williams, 50, teaches at Ledford Middle School in Davidson county and is charged with sexually assaulting a former student eight years ago.  The victim was only 14 years old at the time and just recently came forward.

Williams is charged with two counts of statutory rape and four counts each of statutory sex offenses and incident liberties with a child.

She posted a $50,000 secured bond once shortly after arriving at the Davidson County Jail.

The district says it’s “aware of the charges” and will take “appropriate action” but it does not appear she has been suspended yet.

Troy Pickens

roy Logan Pickens - Wake - Quiet Eidemic - Teacher Arrests
roy Logan Pickens

We reported on Troy Pickens back in January of this year. Pickens, 26, of Raleigh was arrested in Rockingham by US Marshals.

Pickens raped of a 14 year old female student.  His charges include two counts of first-degree sex offense with a child and first degree rape of a child.

Since the original report, the district attorney has added three more sex crimes charges to the list of offenses committed by Pickens.

He was a teacher in Wake County at Durant Road Middle School but was suspending pending an investigation.

It appears Pickens passed a basic background check.

A Wake County Public Schools spokesperson said in a statement to WRAL that, “The school system conducts criminal background checks on all applicants. The outcome of those checks is strictly confidential and we cannot disclose an individual’s information. However, if a background check reveals sexual misconduct, we do not hire that applicant.”

At the end of the last session, North Carolina’s General Assembly gutted the bill that was supposed to implement more detailed criminal background checks of educators.

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