CHINA GROVE - The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office arrested a China Grove Middle School teacher who also is a Boy Scout leader on Wednesday on charges of taking indecent liberties with children, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Paul Barringer, 51, of Salisbury, had indecent liberties with multiple victims in their preteens over a two-year period.
Their investigation stemmed after a complaint that was filed Sunday concerning Barringer’s alleged inappropriate sexual activity with the children.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System released a statement that said, “The school system was shocked, appalled and very saddened to learn tonight of the arrest and charges of James Barringer III, an eighth-grade math teacher, athletic director and coach at China Grove Middle School.
The conduct with which he has been charged is deplorable and is grounds for immediate dismissal from the school system. The superintendent is taking immediate steps to investigate, in cooperation with law enforcement. Dr. Moody encourages anyone with potentially relevant information to contact the Rowan County Sheriff's Department.”
One student said, "He was the greatest guy in the world when I was there. He went out of his way a lot to help me."
Barringer made his first court appearance Thursday morning via video conference. He faces a maximum of 62 months in jail for six counts of indecent liberties with child. A probable cause hearing is set for July 30.
Rowan County School Board member Chuck Hughes said Barringer’s case is one more reason he wants the board to create a tougher hiring process.
He’s now calling for the district to fingerprint all potential employees.
"We need to do everything that we can do to keep the bad guys out of our system. If we aren't doing background checks, we're not doing everything we can do," he said.
Hughes said the district does ask for references, but said he doesn’t care what somebody’s neighbor has to say.
Hughes also plans on asking the Rowan County Sheriff to get involved. He hopes the sheriff can help them through the overhaul process.
Hughes plans on bringing the issue up for discussion at the next school board meeting on July 28.
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