A North Carolina school principal was found deceased Monday from an apparent suicide, according to the News & Observer. Richard Omar Knight, 35, was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area by two local hunters. On Thursday, Knight had been accused of raping a 12-year-old female student.
Allegations against Knight include statutory rape and a sex act, and indecent liberties with a female student, according to the News & Observer. He was suspended from his principal duties at Dillard Academy Charter School and an interim principal was appointed.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday. Knight remained a wanted man over the weekend as the police were unable to locate his whereabouts. The search came to a close Monday when a 911 call led the police to Knight’s body. The sheriff’s office released a statement.
“The hunters’ deer cameras recorded Mr. Knight in the wooded area at approximately 12:36 a.m. on Friday morning. He is alone in the video and appears to be carrying a blanket. Further investigation led to the discovery of Mr. Knight’s Chevrolet Cruze at the Petro Mart on Buckhorn Road. No foul play is suspected in connection with Mr. Knight’s death.”
Knight worked at Dillard Academy, a nonprofit public charter school, for a couple of years, according to WRAL, and parents are in shock from the sexual assault allegations.
“This has had a devastating effect on this school and the school community as a whole,” said Hilda Hicks, the executive director who started Dillard Academy to help low-income families.
Those in the community expressed their shock and dismay. A grandmother of children who attend Dillard Academy told WRAL her grandchildren loved Knight and that he was a “sweet, humble person.” A friend and neighbor showed grief on Facebook.
Complicating the matter is the concern the community has for the girl who came forward to report the alleged rape. Though many have shown their love for the principal and grief for Knight’s family, Hicks hopes that teachers and counselors will be on hand to help students through this difficult time.
“I can safely say this is the most difficult school day that we’ve ever had,” Hicks told WRAL.
The investigation into the allegations against Knight are still under way. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information regarding the sexual assault claims to please step forward and contact Crime Stoppers at 919-735-2255 or send in a tip at p3tips.com. Callers remain anonymous and a reward is available if information leads to a felony arrest.