• Assistant principal confessed she had sex with student, warrant says

    By: Ken Lemon

    Updated:

    GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - An assistant principal who is facing six felony sexual activity with a student by a school official confessed to the charges, according to a search warrant.

    Lisa Rothwell is an assistant principal at Stuart W. Cramer High School and was released from jail Friday after being accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

    According to the search warrants, she and the teen were texting each other beginning in March until police started their investigation two weeks ago after getting a tip.

    Rothwell was charged on Oct. 4 and was being jailed under a $1 million bond. On Friday, a judge lowered the bond to $100,000 and Rothwell bonded out.

    Rothwell has been suspended with pay from the school, officials said.

    There was a group of people at the courthouse to support Rothwell during Friday's hearing.

    "She's got a kind heart," former student Jasmine Morgan said.

    Morgan said she went through a troubled time and Rothwell counseled her and saved her life.

    "If Ms. Rothwell hadn't been there for me when I was going through a lot of stuff, I probably wouldn't be here today," Morgan said.

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    Sources said the sex acts happened three times in April and three times in July. Each time, there were two sex acts involved.

    "I anticipate this working out very quickly, and that's the bottom line," defense attorney Trippe McKeny said.

    The accuser was a student at the time.


    (Rothwell being booked into the Gaston County jail)

    Channel 9 learned police acted fast in their investigation after hearing chatter on campus between students.

    "There was some chatter among students that was passed back a forth, which made its way to school administration," Gaston County Police Capt. Bill Downey said.

    Investigators said Rothwell began tutoring the victim last school year.

    "Tutoring, the assistant principal, in this case, was helping the young man with some issues as far as school," Downey said.

    Rothwell has over 10 years of experience with Gaston County Schools, according to the district's website.

    She is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and taught exceptional children and English 9 and 10 at North Gaston High School.


    (Rothwell mug shot and staff photo from Gaston County Schools)

    She also taught at Springfield and Kiser elementary schools and Stanley Middle School.

    Rothwell has been with Stuart W. Cramer High School since 2014. Her profile page on its website has since been taken down after she was booked into jail.

    Police questioned the student and Rothwell, which is a process that can normally take months. The arrest came within a week.

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    "We don't make charges unless we know, and we have evidence (that) we can proceed to court with," Downey said.

    Rothwell's attorney said Monday in court what so many are saying at Stuart Cramer High.

    "Everybody is shocked and completely flabbergasted," McKeny said.

    Rothwell's husband and his family were in court to support her.

    Her attorney didn't deny the charges but pleaded with the judge to lower the bond.

    The attorney claimed Rothwell helped so many students and that she worked with students with special needs for much of her career.

    "Though these allegations are very serious, Your Honor please, she has helped a lot of folks for a long time," McKeny said.

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