LANEY HIGH STUDENT CHARGED WITH SEX CRIMES School district has video of interaction before alleged assault

October 2, 2019
Ashley Morris, Cammie Bellany

WILMINGTON -- A Laney High School student accused of sexually assaulting a classmate at the school had his bond set at $50,000 by a New Hanover County judge Wednesday.

Darran Latrell Thomas, 16, is charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of kidnapping, according to New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer.

Brewer confirmed Thomas is a student at Laney High. He said the alleged sexual incidents took place on school property sometime Tuesday prior to the arrest.

Thomas made his first appearance in New Hanover County court Wednesday afternoon. The teen appeared in shackles, wearing a Brunswick County jail uniform. Brewer said he could not confirm why Thomas was being held at the Brunswick jail.

Assistant District Attorney Lance Oehrlein told the court that the victim in the alleged assault was also a minor. He said immediately following the alleged assault, the girl went to Laney’s Wilmington Health Access for Teens (WHAT) clinic, where she was interviewed by law enforcement.

Oehrlein said Thomas was also interviewed by law enforcement at the school.

“During that interview, the defendant admitted that the victim told him to stop,” he said in court.

New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum confirmed that the district has video of Thomas and the alleged victim interacting before the assault. In court Wednesday, officials said that the video did not depict the actual assault, which allegedly happened out of view of cameras.

The district attorney’s office recommended a secured bond of $100,000 for Thomas.

Speaking in court Wednesday, Thomas’ mother, LaQueena Wallington, asked that that amount be lowered.

“He has no prior offenses as a juvenile, this is the first time that he has ever had any type of contact with law enforcement,” she said.

The judge decided to set Thomas’ secured bond at $50,000. If released from jail, he will be subject to electronic monitoring and will have to stay at his mother’s home. He is also not allowed to contact the victim, return to school property, or use social media. Wallington told the court that her son has been suspended from school for 10 days and was facing an expulsion investigation.

Before leaving the courtroom Wednesday, Wallington got the judge’s permission to hug her son. Thomas was then lead, crying, out of the courtroom.


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