The day after Carolina Friends School announced that five former students
reported they had been sexually abused as children, one of the alleged perpetrators committed suicide.
Bill Butcher, a former middle school teacher, was accused of sexually abusing a boy in 1976. That boy and four other male students told Carolina Friends School administrators that Harold Jernigan, a former principal, had also abused them.
Butcher still lived in North Carolina; Jernigan lives in New Jersey. Last week, school official said they had reached Butcher, who told them "he did not wish to deny or contradict the allegations and expressed remorse for the anguish and harm he had caused. He has agreed to participate in a reconciliation process, if sought by the former student."
Today, Carolina Friends School officials released this statement:
"In speaking with his niece, who had been unaware of the situation at Carolina Friends School, she asked us to convey her deep sorrow for those who may have been harmed.
"We know that the effects of child sexual abuse are far-reaching for all involved. Also, we are mindful of Bill's expression of deep remorse and desire to contribute to healing. We are sorry for the loss of opportunity for our community and for him to pursue some measure of restorative justice."
No charges have been filed because, according to Orange County law enforcement officials, the statutes at the time—more than 40 years ago—regarded the nature of the incidents as misdemeanors. Although there is no statute of limitations on felonies, in this case, it has expired on 40-year-old misdemeanors.