Former educator Derone McNeill was indicted in July on 28 charges of sexual activity with a student.
McNeill, 47, was arrested April 3 and was initially held on a $2 million secured bond after two law enforcement agencies in Iredell County announced he was facing more than 80 charges of sexual assault. His bond was subsequently reduced to $100,000.
An Iredell County Grand Jury returned an indictment July 10 on 28 charges of sexual activity with a student, moving the cases into Iredell County Superior Court. McNeill had a Superior Court date on Tuesday in which his attorney, Ken Darty, appeared on his behalf.
Darty said he is now waiting on information from the prosecuting district attorney’s office. “All I know now is what the assistant district attorney has told me,” Darty said.
McNeill is facing less than half the counts he was originally charged with; Darty offered his assessment of the initial number of charges.
“It shows the overzealousness of law enforcement,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday.
Darty explained the charge of sexual activity with a student is not a rape charge, since rape legally means the assault was against the victim’s will. According to the statue in North Carolina law, “consent is not a defense to a charge under this section.”
Darty said his client is doing well.
Robert Taylor is serving as the assistant district attorney prosecutor for McNeill’s trial. He works in the office of District 22B Attorney Garry Frank that operates in Davie and Davidson counties.
In April, Frank explained that this decision was made after District 22A Attorney Sarah Kirkman recused herself from the case. This was done in the best interest of justice and avoiding any potential conflict in the case, Frank said.
Taylor could not be reached for comment.
McNeill was originally charged by the Statesville Police Department with 26 counts of second-degree rape, 26 counts of second-degree forcible sex offense and 26 counts of sexual activity with a student.
A day later, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office announced additional charges against McNeill of two counts of felony second-degree forcible rape, two counts of felony second-degree forcible sex offense, and three counts of felony sexual activity with a student by school personnel.
McNeill was employed by the Pressly Alternative School as a teacher assistant and bus driver when the charges were announced. Iredell-Statesville Public School’s spokeswoman Boen Nutting said at the time that he was placed on administrative leave the same day charges against him were filed. He was terminated from his position April 6. The I-SS investigation examining McNeill was terminated the same day.
At the time, I-SS Superintendent Brady Johnson said I-SS was confident it was in compliance with its procedures and policies in terminating McNeill.
The charges stem from a allegations of a 2012 sexual assault by a student who was attending Statesville Christian School.
Court documents show McNeil’s bond was lowered to $100,000 on April 8 and posted bond and was released that day.