Former principal pleads guilty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

WINTON – Larry Ellis Jr., Hertford County High School’s former principal, entered a guilty plea here Monday for his alleged role of sexual misconduct last year against students at the school.

Appearing in Hertford County Superior Court before Judge Milton E. &uot;Toby&uot; Fitch Jr. of Wilson, Ellis entered a guilty plea to one felony count of attempted indecent liberties with a minor by a school administrator.

He was sentenced to no less than six months, no more than eight months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. That sentence was suspended with the stipulation that Ellis serve two years of supervised probation and perform 48 hours of community service work within 60 days of Monday’s date.

In addition, Ellis must surrender his license to teach and to act as a school administrator in the state of North Carolina. He was ordered not to act in either capacity until such a time he is properly licensed to do so by the state. That time period is not known.

As a special condition to the sentence, Ellis must register himself as a sexual offender within his current county of residence. When he was arrested and charged in the case during August of last year, Ellis listed an address in Ayden (Pitt County) as his place of residence. He was to register within 24 hours of Monday’s sentence.

Ellis was to pay a $350 fine plus court cost. He will also have to pay a $100 fee for his participation in the Community Service program.

The original charge was filed last year where Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan reported that four HCHS students alleged sexual improprieties against Ellis. Vaughan said it was to his understanding, based upon the information gained through an investigation, that the alleged sexual activity between Ellis and the students dated back as far as September, 2002. The latest accusation, according to Vaughan, occurred on June 24 of last year.

The Sheriff also reported that all the accusations were for on-campus (sexual) activity and involved males between the ages of 16-18.

Initially, Ellis was charged with five felony counts of indecent liberties with students by a school administrator as well as five misdemeanor counts of soliciting crimes against nature. The latter five charges were dismissed by the state when Ellis waived his right to a probable cause hearing last September.

He was represented by Windsor attorney Teresa Smallwood during all of his court appearances.

Ellis stepped down as HCHS principal effective June 30, 2003 after submitting his letter of resignation on May 8, 2003 to the Hertford County Board of Education. He had served as principal at HCHS since May 24, 2001.

Hertford County Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Deloatch said the Central Office (Board of Education) was notified of the allegations by Carson Watford, then the acting head administrator of HCHS. Deloatch confirmed that at the time of the allegations, Ellis had already resigned from the Hertford County Public School system.

Ellis turned himself in to the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office on the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2003. He posted a $140,000 bond and was released later that night.

After resigning from HCHS, Ellis was hired as principal at E.E. Middle School in Kenansville. Upon learning of the allegations against Ellis, the Duplin County Board of Education suspended him, with pay, pending the outcome of the charges.