Former students at Durham’s Northern High School say they knew a school resource officer and volunteer cheerleading coach toed the line, but they did not realize how far investigators now say he crossed it.
Former Northern students remember ‘touchy-feely’ officer, cheer coach
Durham, N.C. — Former students at Durham’s Northern High School say they knew a school resource officer and volunteer cheerleading coach toed the line, but they did not realize how far investigators now say he crossed it.
Christopher Kelly, 40, was fired April 28 after being accused of sexual misconduct, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. He started working as an off-duty school resource officer in June 2014, in addition to his assignment on the warrant squad.
He was arrested Monday on sex crimes involving a 15-year-old student.
Kayla Tran and Megan Prude, both former cheerleaders at Northern, say they got to know Kelly well and are not surprised by the charges against him.
“We are just surprised that he was actually caught for the things that he did,” said Tran. “I never really became close to him because he was very touchy-feely.”
Prude also remembered him for being close to students.
“Even at practices, hugs would last too long. It would be uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s not the hug you give a student.”
They say the behavior was noticed by parents. Some complained to the head coach.
“The cheerleaders know how he is, but we thought he was just being extra friendly. Now, we see,” Prude said.
The head coach sat the team down and told them it was OK to talk to him and joke, but to not be on a “friendly level” with Kelly.
“She kind of saw it. It is just how he carries himself,” Prude said.
Since graduating in 2016, Prude said she has had encounters with Kelly on social media that trouble her.
“I had put up on Snapchat one day that I was going to cut my hair, and he commented and was like, ‘You would look so sexy with short hair,'” Prude said.
Now, she said she feels some regret.
“I feel like if I would have said something, maybe it would have caught him sooner, so it wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Prude said.
According to a spokesperson for Durham County Schools, an internal investigation into Kelly began Monday. The investigation is ongoing.
Kelly is charged with statutory sex offense with a child, first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, indecent liberties with a child, sex acts with a student and second-degree kidnapping.
According to a family member, Kelly has a wife and children.
He is being held under a $2.5 million bond.