2 middle school teachers, another man charged with sex offenses against minor

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Two West Rowan Middle School teachers and another man, who is still on the run, have been charged with sex offenses against a female minor, the sheriff’s office announced Monday.

Ethan Andrew Grose was charged last month in the case. Officials had said the 29-year-old teacher at West Rowan Middle School was having inappropriate conversations and sending pornographic photos to a student on social media.

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Deputies said they have since learned that another teacher at the school, 29-year-old Justin Andrew Avery, was also sending sexually explicit images to the student.

They said they also identified 24-year-old Donovan Perez Hernandez as another suspect during their investigation.

A family member of the victim, who did not want to be identified, said the family is angry but glad something is being done.

“We’re also feeling a little bit more relief to know that the truth is coming out now, and they’re doing everything they can to get justice," the family member said.

Avery, Grose and Hernandez are all charged with third-degree exploitation of a minor and indecent liberties with a child.

The victim’s family member said they think the exchange of photos began a year ago.

“School is supposed to be a place where you can learn, not a place where you’re manipulated, and your life has basically been taken from you,” the family member said. “I feel as if the whole school needs to be under investigation."

Deputies said Hernandez is not associated with the school district and is still on the run.

The family member said the victim didn't have a phone of her own but got access to one.

The victim is getting therapy, according to the family member.

"Justice will be served,’ the family member said. “If that means having to miss work, quit my job, whatever. Whatever the case may be, we will make sure justice is served.”

Officials said Avery has been working with the school since Sept. 2017 and was placed on disciplinary suspension without pay on Monday.

They’re asking anyone with information about where Hernandez might be to call 911 or Salisbury/Rowan Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245.

School district officials sent Channel 9 the following statement Monday evening:

"It is heartbreaking any time we receive a report that involves inappropriate behavior. We have protocol in place to immediately handle difficult situations should they occur assuring the continued safety of our students and staff. We conduct internal investigations, review our processes, and continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement on their investigations.

"We join our families in being appalled and angry over this situation. This is not acceptable and we hold our staff accountable to high standards and expectations. We encourage families to talk with their children about safety, including the importance of relying on trusted adults, such as parents, teachers, ministers, school resource officers, and others. Parents are also encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Department if they have any information that they think law enforcement should know. RSS also operates an anonymous tip line, that is available on our district’s website.

“We are very grateful for the excellent relationships with our local law enforcement agencies. We are fortunate to have SROs who are responsive to the needs of our students and who work closely with school administration to create a team atmosphere and enriching place for our children to learn and grow.”