Former middle school band teacher sentenced to at least 50 years in prison for sex crimes

Jamey Cross

The former Roland-Grise Middle School band teacher was convicted last month of 17 child sex abuse crimes he committed against his teenage students. On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser sentenced Frank to a minimum of 50 years and a maximum of over 62 years in prison.

Frank pleaded guilty to 12 other child sex abuse crimes levied against him — six counts of indecent liberties with a child and six counts of indecent liberties with a student. In an arranged plea deal, his sentence of 16 to 29 months for those crimes will be served concurrently with his active sentence.

"The public needs to be protected from this defendant," said Assistant Attorney General Boz Zellinger ahead of the sentencing.

Frank appeared in court Tuesday handcuffed and chained. The 49-year-old will be nearly 100 years old when his minimum sentence expires.

Following the sentencing, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told the StarNews he was "gratified that [Frank] will pay a price for the damage he did to those young women."

"Nothing is more important than protecting kids and, no matter how much time passes, we won't stop our efforts to hold accountable people who commit these horrendous types of crimes," Stein said.

Stein commended the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office for their investigation in this case, as well as Zellinger and Sasser for their work in this case.

Frank's trial in Bladen County started May 9 — moved from New Hanover County due to the publicity around the case. The case was prosecuted by the North Carolina Attorney General's office, due to a conflict of interest with the New Hanover County District Attorney's Office.

During the seven-day trial, three of Frank's victims took the stand to testify to the physical and romantic relationships they had with him when they were middle school students from 1998 to 2004.

"I have so much respect for the courage of these victims and their willingness to publicly relive the crimes that were committed to them by a teacher," Stein said. "It takes a special type of person to be willing to through this in order to hold someone accountable, and my prayer is that they feel some sense of relief and justice for today's result because they deserve that."

The StarNews typically does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.

After hours of witness testimony and evidence, a Bladen County jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes to reach a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges.

Frank was convicted of four counts of statutory sex offense with a person 13, 14 or 15 years old; two counts of first-degree sex offense; seven counts of indecent liberties with a child; three counts of indecent liberties with a student; and one count of sexual activity with a student

One of Frank's victim's was in court for his sentencing Tuesday. At 14, she and then 30-year-old Frank had a romantic and physical relationship when she was a Roland-Grise student.

"At 32, I am just beginning to pick up where I left off," she said.

Following the sentencing, the victim breathed a sigh of relief. She said she hopes this sentence speaks to every student who is or has been taken advantage of by a teacher.

"It needs to stop," she said.

Frank was arrested in 2020. He was one of three teachers arrested over a two-year period for allegedly committing sex crimes with his students — Michael Kelly was taken into custody in February 2018 and later pleaded guilty to 59 charges for sex crimes, and Nicholas Oates was arrested in July 2018 but died before heading to trial.