Former principal accused of sexual misconduct with student to face judge

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — The former principal at Lincolnton High School, who was charged with sexual misconduct with a student, will make his first court appearance Monday.

Tony Lee Worley, 56, was charged with the two counts of felony indecent liberties with a student, five counts of felony sexual activity with a student, two counts of felony solicitation of sex with a student and two counts of misdemeanor solicitation for indecent liberties with a minor.

Worley's bond is set at $47,000.

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On June 21, the Lincolnton Police Department was notified after a former student reported inappropriate activity had begun with a school principal which was identified as Worley.

The Lincolnton High School principal was suspended June 22 pending an investigation by Lincoln County Schools and resigned the following Tuesday.

Worley “surrendered any and all professional licenses to be a teacher or school administrator to the North Carolina State Board of Education,” officials said.

During the investigation, authorities identified another victim after interviews with witnesses.

In the original search warrant, the student said Worley first connected with him under the profile name Tsunami on the dating app Grindr.

The student said Worley shared a picture he took of that student at a Lincolnton High School football game.

The most damaging images came from the principal's Lincolnton home, according to the warrants.

The warrants said the images included several nude photos of young men, including some the accuser knew.

He said the principal bragged that a former student was coming over for sex and said Worley shared a picture and tried to convince the accuser to show more of himself.

The accuser said he noticed that suddenly, more of his pictures were on the school's Instagram page, a page controlled by Worley.

That student went to police on Friday after allegedly weeks of communication on social media.

Worley was suspended the next day.

Superintendent Lory Morrow and her staff will name an acting principal or find a new principal for the high school.

“State personnel laws and federal laws protecting student confidentiality prevent the school district from releasing specific information regarding any personnel matter,” officials with the district said in the release. “In addition, the superintendent and Board of Education take student safety very seriously and Lincoln County School officials work closely with law enforcement to investigate allegations of misconduct involving students.”


"On Friday, July 5, 2019, Lincoln County Schools (LCS) was notified of the arrest of former Lincolnton High School principal, Mr. Tony Worley.  Per the previous press release of June 25, 2019, Mr. Worley resigned his employment with Lincoln County Schools and surrendered all of his professional licenses to the North Carolina State Board of Education on June 25. 

Student safety is a priority and Lincoln County Schools has and will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement during this process.    

State and federal confidentiality laws protecting student and employee prevent LCS from releasing any specific information regarding Mr. Worley’s previous resignation or the criminal investigation.  Although LCS is unable to provide any specific comment about this matter, it is important to highlight that any time LCS is presented with an allegation of employee criminal conduct, LCS immediately notifies local law enforcement and LCS cooperates with the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation."

Lincoln County Schools hired Worley in 2002, and he became principal at Lincolnton High School on Jan. 27, 2017.

Officials ask any victims or witnesses to contact the Lincolnton Police Department at 704-736-8900.

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