group of school kids running

Shocking! Nearly 1/3rd of New Hanover County Sex Offenders Live Within 1 Mile of a School

March 28, 2020
By Rhine Law Firm, P.C.

According to data available in the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry and research we conducted while investigating sexual assault complaints occurring in local schools, over one-third of registered sex offenders in New Hanover County live within a one-mile radius of an elementary school. Out of the 292 offenders living in New Hanover County, 110 of them live within that proximity of our most vulnerable children. There are no schools in New Hanover County that do not have a sex offender living in a one-mile radius. Frankly, that is just shocking!


This research was conducted while representing current and former students who were victims of sexual assaults and exploitation by teachers Michael Kelly and Peter Frank. While partnering with the Lea/Schultz Law Firm, we filed a civil suit last July against the New Hanover County Board of Education for failing to investigate and act on numerous complaints made to administrators over some 20 years against Michael Kelly. Kelly previously pleaded guilty to 59 felonies involving sex crimes he committed against 9th and 10th grade male high school students at Laney High School and Isaac Bear Early College High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. Frank is currently in the New Hanover County jail awaiting trial on 29 charges for sex crimes he is alleged to have committed over a similar 20-year period against female middle schoolers at Roland Grise Middle School.

Our community has been in continuous shock for the last two years as stories concerning teacher-student sex abuse. In that time, three former teachers have been arrested, including Kelly, Frank and Nicholas Oates, who died in jail due to health reasons while he was awaiting trial for charges involving sexual assaults involving a female middle school student.

These facts made us question the safety of our schools and we decided to look at the larger issue of where sex offenders live with respect to our schools, and particularly to the most vulnerable of our students, those in elementary schools. The results were both astonishing and frightening.

Below is a listing of the number of offenders closest to each school, ranking by a combined score of individual offenders and the number of sex crimes requiring them to register.

New Hanover County Schools with No Registered Offenders Within A One-Mile Radius
  • None
Pender County Schools with No Registered Offenders Within A One-Mile Radius
  • Malpass Corner Elementary
  • North Topsail Elementary
  • Penderlea School
  • Rocky Point Elementary
  • South Topsail Elementary
  • Surf City Elementary
  • Topsail Elementary
Brunswick Schools with No Registered Offenders Within A One-Mile Radius
  • Belville Elementary
  • Bolivia Elementary
  • Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary
  • Town Creek Elementary
  • Virginia Williamson Elementary
  • Waccamaw Elementary

North Carolina prohibits violent sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a school. For non-violent sexual offenses, there is no restriction.

If you’d like more information on how to get justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse please visit our sexual abuse in schools webpage.

For more information on the New Hanover County Schools sexual abuse civil suits against the school board, Michael Kelly and Peter Frank visit our case specific website.

Additional Resources

The SBI’s Registry is available to the public at

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline, tel.: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). This group connects victims of sexual assaults to sexual assault service providers in their community
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, tel. : 1-800-273-8255. This group provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources.
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