Lincolnton Police have arrested former Lincolnton High School principal Tony Lee Worley on multiple charges. After an investigation by the Lincolnton Police Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Gastonia Police Department, the charges were filed early Friday morning (July 5th). Worley then showed up at the Police Department at 8:30 AM to turn himself in.
Worley, who turned 57 on June 8th, had resigned his position at Lincolnton High School, was suspended on Saturday June 22nd after allegations of misconduct and resigned effective June 25th turning in his professional licenses meaning he could no longer teach or work as an administrator in any North Carolina school.
Lincolnton Police were advised of the reported misconduct on Friday June 21st by Lincoln County Schools System Administration. The allegations involved alleged inappropriate activity between Worley and a former male student at Lincolnton High School. The victim reported the activity had begun while he was still a student.
The Police obtained multiple search warrants. Some news outlets reported (erroneously) that Worley had been charged. The information in their reports came largely from the search warrants (which are not arrest warrants) and were premature. No criminal charges were filed until Friday.
Worley is now charged with two counts of Felony Indecent Liberties with a Student, five counts of Felony Sexual Activity with a Student, two counts of Felony Solicitation of Sex with a Student and two Counts of Misdemeanor Solicitation for Indecent Liberties with a minor. The magistrate set bond at $47,000 and he was released on bond pending a first court appearance Monday (July 8th).
Investigators said they conducted numerous interviews with witnesses and identified at least one additional alleged victim. Investigators continue to work to identify additional victims. The Lincolnton Police Department offered thanks to the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center for their assistance with the case. Preservation letters were issued to a number of social media and online dating websites to give investigators opportunities to obtain search warrants. A number of search warrants have already been served with more still to come.
--- As most are aware, the Lincoln Herald, unlike most media outlets, did not (as a matter of policy) run this story until criminal charges were filed. We have a standing policy that we only run articles about alleged criminal activities WHEN charges have been filed. We also did not run a story about another principal's departure from NLHS. Charlotte TV stations used info from a search warrant and erroneously reported that Worley faced charges of possession of child pornography and others. A search warrant means police believe there may have been criminal activity--but it's not the same as being charged. It appeared likely that charges would be filed, and now that they have we'll follow the case through the courts. We're not "covering up" anything--but we operate on strict principles. With his suspension and resignation, plus being investigated by police and SBI, the suspect posed no further threat to students. We talked with police on Monday after he was suspended and multiple times since. We don't comment on ongoing investigations. When charges are filed we report them. We consider it inappropriate to 'try' cases in social media (or on TV, in newspapers, etc.) before the police have done their job and investigated.
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