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Former Quaker school teacher accused of sexual abuse commits suicide

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Carolina Friends School is a private pre-K to grade 12 Quaker school in Orange County. Carolina Friends School is a private pre-K to grade 12 Quaker school in Orange County.

A former teacher at a private school in Orange County took his own life the day after the school said he admitted to inappropriately touching students, the school announced Monday.

Carolina Friends School, a private pre-K to grade 12 Quaker school in Durham, said Charles William "Bill" Butcher killed himself June 12. Butcher was a former middle school teacher who at least one former student said inappropriately touched them in the spring of 1976.

The school said Butcher's niece was unaware of the allegations against her uncle, but asked the school to "convey her deep sorrow for those who may have been harmed."

Butcher, 71, had told the school that he would participate in the reconciliation process for the students he may have harmed.

"We are mindful of Bill's expression of deep remorse and desire to contribute to healing," the school said Monday. "We are sorry for the loss of opportunity for our community and for him to pursue some measure of restorative justice."

Butcher was one of two former Carolina Friends School employees named by the school last week as having possibly sexually abused students between 1969 and 1975.

Carolina Friends School said it learned in 2012 that several former students alleged their were sexually abused by former principal Harold Jernigan. The school said the former students claimed they were abused in their lower and middle school years.

In response to the allegations, the school hired two experts on child abuse and sexual misconduct to conduct an independent review. Through that review, five former students shared accounts of inappropriate touching by Jernigan.

Carolina Friends School said it reached out to both Jernigan and Butcher, but only Butcher responded to inquiries.

The school said Butcher "did not wish to deny or contradict the allegations and expressed remorse for the anguish and harm he had caused."

According to his obituary, Butcher's last-known address was in West Jefferson, N.C.

Carolina Friends School was founded in 1962 by members of the Religious Society of Friends.


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