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Rock Hill administrator accused in child porn investigation resigns
[March 28, 2013]

Rock Hill administrator accused in child porn investigation resigns

ROCK HILL, Mar 28, 2013 (The Herald (Rock Hill - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Darin Pearson, the assistant principal at Rock Hill's Sullivan Middle School who earlier this month was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, has resigned from the school district, officials said Thursday.

Pearson, who spent a decade as a teacher and educator in Rock Hill, handed in his resignation on Tuesday, said schools spokeswoman Elaine Baker.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation arrested Pearson, 32, on March 15, after receiving a tip from the Metro Nashville Police Department that Pearson might be involved in trading photos of child pornography, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

Nashville Police connected Pearson with Earl W. Arnold, a homeless man who officials accuse of recording students with his iPhone outside a high school in downtown Nashville.

Arnold allowed detectives to look through his iPhone, where they found child pornography, according to court documents. He was charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Detectives further examined Arnold's phone and found pornographic images of children had been sent to and traded with other people, an arrest affidavit reads.

"Pearson's name was developed as a result of the phone analysis," Nashville police said. They would not say if Pearson's name was among Arnold's contacts or if they found evidence that Pearson and Arnold had traded pornography.

Charlotte Police and the SBI executed a search warrant and confiscated electronics from Pearson's Picasso Court apartment. According to an arrest warrant, police found several pornographic movies depicting minors engaging in sexual acts. It's unclear if these movies have any connection with Arnold.

Police arrested and charged Pearson with three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He bonded out of prison the next day. Authorities haven't made any more arrests or filed any more charges in connection with the investigation, said Jessica Lawrence, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokeswoman.

She was unable to comment on any other possible suspects.

Pearson, the sixth-grade assistant principal at Sullivan Middle School in Rock Hill, was still on paid administrative leave when he submitted his resignation, Baker said. The Rock Hill School Board will be presented with his resignation before it's approved, Baker said.

Last Monday, Rock Hill Police issued a search warrant at Sullivan Middle School and confiscated Pearson's two HP Comaq computers and an iPod in his office, according to a police search warrant obtained by The Herald.

According to the search warrant, "Pearson used his personal computers and cell phone to communicate with other individuals through iMessage and downloaded child pornography." The Herald's attempts to reach Pearson have been unsuccessful. Family members that have been reached have declined to comment.

Pearson's lawyer, Charlotte defense attorney S. Frederick Winiker, declined to answer several questions from The Herald this week.

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