Educator Recovers from False Sex Charges

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A former high school principal is putting his life back together more than a year after a 16-year-old student falsely accused him of having consensual sex. Eboni Wilson was arrested for sexual misconduct. His accuser later recanted, but the ordeal has taken an emotional toll.

ED GORDON, host:

From NPR News, this is NEWS AND NOTE. I'm Ed Gordon.

What happens to your life if you are wrongfully accused of a crime? We have two stories today. In Chicago, a 15-year old boy is behind bars after being charged in the shooting that left two men wounded, one seriously. But some say the teenager is leading a troubled life because of what he endured when he was just seven years old.

In 1998, he and another boy were wrongfully accused of raping and killing a little girl named Ryan Harris. More on that case in a moment. But first, a former principal is putting his life back together more than a year after a 16-year-old high school student falsely accused him of having consensual sex with her.

Eboni Wilson earned his Ph.D. two years before accepting a job as principal at Chester High. The public school, with about 1,600 students, is located near Delaware, Pennsylvania. Mr. Wilson's time at the school lasted only a few months. He was arrested for sexual misconduct and had to post a $50,000 bond.

His accuser later recanted her story. Here is 29-year old Eboni Wilson in his own words.

Dr. EBONI WILSON (Former High School Principal): Being a principal at Chester High School - for one, it was a huge challenge for me, especially being my first school. I mean, I was going to this school unaware of the demographics that existed and the history in the neighborhood.

But once they figure out that I cared about their education and about their life, they began to accept me more and more. They say this young lady walked in the back of the auditorium and sometime later I came in through the front of the auditorium and then we both left.

She left out the back at some point, and then I left out the front. And they said they got that on camera, and they said they put two and two together and they questioned the young lady. Initially, she told the truth; she said she was in the auditorium skipping class and she wasn't alone. There were a couple of other people in there, as well.

I do my rounds around the school. I go in classrooms; I go in places where I know kids are ditching; and I go look to see if they're skipping class and so forth. Finally, the police came and questioned her and finally she said yeah, we did; we did something. They went from there.

I was in awe. I didn't know what to think. I didn't know where it was coming from. I started to think back on how many people I had to remove from the building and how many enemies I had created by the restructuring, because I had to let people go. And I knew that people didn't like me there, as far as some of the adults, particularly safety officers who watch the cameras, because I made sure that they were on their job. I'm the one who asked them to put the camera in the back of the auditorium. And this young lady, she wrote I think my lawyer letters telling her that she lied, and then I saw her on the news confessing that nothing happened.

At that point, I didn't know what was still going to happen. I was still kind of dumbfounded by the whole situation. And so when they finally dropped the charges like a few days before the court date, I was just relieved and was ready to start something new. I still wasn't thinking about going back into education whatsoever.

But then, you know, my heart is - God put me on this earth to change kids' lives because they are suffering. I think there's always going to be stigma, a cloud hanging over my head. But I just want the kids to know that no matter what I still enjoyed my time there with them and hope that I left an impact on their lives.

My wife and I are opening up a school in Chicago. We hope to change more kids' lives and create more opportunities for them, so that they get out of the miserable condition that they live in.

And that's how I know why I put on this earth, is to get them to recognize through their suffering that they can grow strong.

GORDON: That again was Eboni Wilson, Ph.D., who has written a motivational book, Breaking the Cycle.

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