BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The trial for former Roland-Grise Middle School Band Director Peter Frank continued Wednesday as attorneys presented brief opening statements and the state called its first witness to the stand.
Frank faces 17 charges stemming from his relationship with a student at the school from 1998 to 2000. He is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual offense, four counts of statutory sex offense with a person who is 13, 14, or 15, one count of sexual activity with a student, seven counts of indecent liberties with a child and four counts of indecent liberties with a student.
The alleged victim in this case was the first witness called stand Wednesday morning. She detailed her relationship with Frank.
***Warning: This story contains graphic details about the alleged victim’s testimony***
The alleged victim says she felt alone during her time as a student at Roland-Grise. She says she started writing “secret admirer” notes to Frank, her band teacher, when she was in 7th grade. The alleged victim claims her friends would pass the letters on to Frank so she could remain anonymous.
Frank apparently kept the letters through the years and the alleged victim read some of the letters to the jury today. Within the notes, she told Frank she found him attractive and even admitted to being in love with him. After a few notes, she identified herself to him as one of his students.
In addition to the notes, she also gifted Frank a tie for his birthday. The tie, with a design resembling musical notes and clefs, was later seized by investigators and entered into evidence for this case.
The alleged victim says Frank eventually began to talk to her about the divorce he was going through at the time, and the two would chat on the blacktop area behind the band room during recess.
According to her testimony, the alleged victim started taking private percussion lessons with Frank after school on Friday’s in 7th grade. She says these lessons quickly turned into “make out sessions.”
Frank allegedly first kissed the then-student during one of these lessons after asking her to dance. The alleged victim says she had asked Frank to dance at a school dance prior to this, but Frank declined.
The alleged victim says she and Frank would speak frequently on the phone outside of school. She detailed a time where she was upset that he had not called her, only to tell her the next day that he had passed out in downtown Wilmington after drinking.
As the relationship continued, the alleged victim says Frank would fondle her during these “make out sessions.” She claims Frank performed oral sex on her around the time of her 14th birthday.
The summer after her 7th grade year, the alleged victim says she would spend time with her friends and Frank at Wrightsville Beach.
The relationship continued into the alleged victim’s 8th grade year at Roland-Grise.
The alleged victim detailed one night when she and Frank were supposed to attend a concert in Myrtle Beach, but instead ended up having dinner in Wilmington and spending time at Frank’s apartment. She says Frank made her an alcoholic drink known as a “mudslide.”
After this incident, the alleged victim says her parents began to show concern. She claims she told school authorities that nothing happened with Frank that night, and said she did not want to share the details of their relationship at that time for fear Frank would face consequences.
The alleged victim continued her testimony by saying Frank would frequently leave gifts for her in her instrument case in the band room, including chocolate, a sexually graphic note, and a flavored condom.
Frank and the alleged victim never had sexual intercourse, according to her testimony.
Before the alleged victim began high school, Frank told her that he did not want to continue the relationship.
The alleged victim says her peers would often make comments about her being in a relationship with Frank. She says this is part of the reason she transferred to a different high school after her freshman year.
The jury was also shown notes Frank wrote in the alleged victim’s yearbook and pictures of her and Frank she says were taken on a self-timer camera.
During cross-examination, Bruce Mason, Frank’s attorney, questioned the alleged victim about her involvement in a civil lawsuit against Frank and the New Hanover County Board of Education.
“I felt entirely overwhelmed,” the alleged victim said when asked about how she felt when investigators from New Hanover County came to ask her about her relationship with Frank in 2020, two decades after she left Roland-Grise.
Cross-examination will continue when court resumes at 9:00 a.m. Thursday.
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