Schools

OCEAN — A substitute teacher is speaking out after getting suspended by Carteret County Schools for taking photos of female students during a weightlifting class at Croatan High School.

Lee Walter addressed the matter Oct. 10 in a video posted to Facebook that as of Thursday evening had been shared 271 times and viewed 7,700 times.

“I got in front of the story with that Facebook Live,” he said in a phone interview with the News-Times. “The first 12 hours sucked, and I was shocked. It took 24 to 48 hours to see what I was in. It was rough. It’s been rough at points, no doubt. It has not been fun, but we have experienced a crazy amount of support. It was super clear that it was a misunderstanding.”

Carteret County Schools Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson told the News-Times students notified administrators a substitute teacher had taken pictures and videos of them during weightlifting class Oct. 7. The News-Times will not identify any students involved in the incident.

According to the statement, the substitute teacher was immediately removed from class and law enforcement was notified of the allegation. The students’ parents were contacted by school administrators. School officials are continuing to investigate the allegations.

“The safety of students and staff are of paramount concern,” Dr. Jackson said in the statement. “We appreciate the students who reported the incident to the administration and the school officials who took quick action.”

In the video that often finds Mr. Walter emotional, he explained he and his wife are fans of CrossFit, a cross-discipline fitness regimen. When he saw the female students doing deadlifts in the class, he said he took two live photos of a single deadlift repetition and texted them to his wife. He claims he sent two because he messed up the first one.

Apple iPhones record what happens 1.5 seconds before and after a photo is taken as part of the “live photo” feature.

“The reason why I did it was a simple update to my wife about how my day is going,” Mr. Walter said in the Facebook video.

He continues that the situation was a “horrible misunderstanding” and said “they were completely harmless photos.” He also apologized to the student.

In a statement issued separately from the school system, Carteret County public information officer Nick Wilson said, “based on the information reported to the sheriff’s office, they have determined that no criminal laws have been violated and referred the matter back to the Carteret County Public School System administration.”

In the interview with the News-Times, Mr. Walter said he wanted to make two things clear: only one female student made a complaint and law enforcement was already on hand, in the form of school resource officer Lt. Timothy Quillen, at the time of the incident.

“There’s reports of 10 girls making a complaint,” Mr. Walter alleges. “They did not. One student made a complaint to the SRO saying it made her uncomfortable. A law enforcement officer was the first person to hear it. He took the report. He notified the school administration. It wasn’t a thing where the school heard this complaint and felt they needed to report it to the sheriff’s office.”

Instead, Mr. Walter claims school administration followed up on the complaint and 10 students reportedly confirmed they saw him take a photo.

The incident/investigation report filed by Lt. Quillen and reviewed by the News-Times lists the number of victims as “1.”

Mr. Walter said he met Wednesday afternoon with assistant superintendent Blair Probst and claimed no further action was taken against him and he remains suspended pending the investigation.

Mr. Walter said he has been a substitute teacher with the county since 2017, except for disruptions by deployments with the U.S. Army Reserve. He is currently an assistant professor of military science at East Carolina University.

 

Editor's note: This article was updated at 8:01 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, to correct a typo.

(10) comments

Lee W

Thank you to the Carteret News-Times for sharing my story. This is the best yet by far. I wouldn't change a single word. Their story was written with understanding vs. a strategy to get clicks.

I’ve been on the record multiple times that the Carteret County Sherriff’s report to WITN was wrong. Of all the reporters in Greenville and Raleigh who have covered this story, the Carteret-News times reporter was the first to follow up, ask to see the Sherriff’s report and and prove that is is one not TEN reports.

If you haven’t heard how they were able to come up with the the number ten, watch my last live video. The investigation technique was clearly a next-level, refined method to produce information to support a contrived outcome.

At the beginning of this, I was angry with the way the CCSO handled it, thinking I was dealing with incompetence, but this is not my belief anymore. I'm asking for help. Please contact me confidentially if you have any information to help fill in the step-by-step map from the moment Officer Timmy Quillen took the initial, single report until WITN shared their false report.

I've had a number of people advocate for Timmy Quillen. I don't know him. If you care about him enough to want to protect his name in this scenario someone share this with him. Many have said he's a stand-up guy, someone have him contact me.

Thanks for reading and sharing. Please share these words also.

moreheadmom

This isnt a good look bro.

David Collins

If the folks exercising had been advised and asked for permission this all probably would have never happened . Then there is the protective parent factor and that is understandable but a wild card . Gotta be really careful these days .

drewski

Cell phones are everywhere. We get it. However, middle aged guy taking pic of high-school girl in exercise attire, where there might be some expectation of privacy?

Have to agree with Mr Collins. Common sense suggests permission would be good manners and expected behaviour from a teacher.

Lee W

Thanks for commenting. As many folks talking about this the better.

At some point in the future, I’ll address how this issue relates to the “anti-culture etiquette” attempting to strangle out human connection and why I refuse to sexualize interaction with young people.

At this point, I’m in phase one of the operation, which is to clear my name.

While the paper did a good job telling the story. They left a lot out based on time/ space.

Here’s the rest of the story.

https://www.facebook.com/leewalter714/videos/173232484969017/?d=n

enc34

Sorry dude. As a retired teacher, you do not have a leg to stand on. Call it what you want, but a male taking a picture of teenage girls in that setting shows a complete lackof situational awareness. As a military man, you should have known that.

moreheadmom

Doing a dumb thing in school and then doubling down by being angry and alluding to some weird conspiracy is just not a good look for you. Just admit you made a mistake and move on.

enc34

Just looked at your facebook response. Trying to pass this off as a christian being persecuted or cancel culture is dishonest. You screwed up. Be honest and own it.

OuiserBoudreaux

*I do not know this gentleman or anyone involved in this situation; my children are grown and have never attended CHS, so I am saying this based on the information I've read and the video that I watched. This is simply my opinion*

Without question, I think that the student did the proper thing in addressing her concerns to a peer, since she did feel uncomfortable with the situation. I 100% feel that this gentleman did not have any ill intentions or malicious intent, in what he did. Appropriate? That could be debated, all day long.. I understand that procedures are in place in our school's to protect our children and I'm very, very thankful for that; But at some point, common sense needs to be utilized, also- Had a stranger off the streets done this, then yes there would be a very valid reason for concern. If this gentleman is a vetted member of our military and has apparently been a substitute in our local school system for several years, then why was this not simply addressed between himself and the principal... This man's name has been tarnished, as I immediately saw red, the first time I read the news reports of this occurrence. My first thought was 'What a sicko.' After coming across his video, I recognized that this 'situation' should have never escalated to the point that it has. I genuinely feel sorry for all parties involved, but the severity of taking a students genuine concern of feeling uncomfortable and turning it into an accusation of perversion, is so irresponsible of CHS. This will follow the student and the teacher indefinitely and was handled very poorly, considering the actual facts of what occurred. Just my opinion...

Staff
webeditor

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