School of the Arts teacher quit amid "unfounded" student sex allegation, records show

    Charleston County School of the Arts (WCIV)

    [Editorial note: This story and its headline were updated Friday, Dec. 14, to reflect new information provided by the North Charleston Police Department.]

    A former Charleston County School of the Arts teacher quit in October after a family member told his bosses he'd had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student, Charleston County School District employment records show.

    A criminal investigation by the North Charleston Police Department determined the allegation to be unfounded, Maj. Scott Perry with NCPD confirmed Friday.

    Robert "Ben" Moore, a Charleston County School District employee since 2001, resigned on Oct. 9 from his job as a visual arts instructor at the School of the Arts after learning he was being investigated for sexual battery of a student, according to Moore's CCSD personnel file.

    CCSD on Thursday, Dec. 13, provided WCIV a copy of Moore's one-sentence, handwritten letter of resignation. The letter was among hundreds of documents the school district turned over in response to a Nov. 9 Freedom of Information Act request.

    WCIV received word Oct. 12 of a sexual misconduct investigation focused on Moore. CCSD public information staff confirmed Oct. 15 Moore was no longer an employee of the district, but would not disclose circumstances surrounding Moore's departure.

    Documents now released by the school district show Moore resigned as an investigation into his alleged misconduct built steam. He'd been placed on administrative leave 11 days earlier on Sept. 28, and had his work computers and flash drives seized.

    Previously, district technology staff had been conducting "incognito" analysis of Moore's devices for evidence of the inappropriate relationship, but documents do not list discovery of such evidence except for the conspicuous creation of "generic" user profiles on Moore's computers.

    The district began its investigation of Moore in July 2018 after an immediate family member alerted CCSD officials of Moore's alleged tryst with a former student. The alleged relationship occurred nearly a decade earlier, in 2009, according to the district's files.

    Moore's family member supplied CCSD with phone records from April and May of 2009, showing thousands of text messages and more than 100 phone calls exchanged between Moore and a phone number reportedly belonging to the student.

    Redacted copies of district staff emails about the investigation never go into detail about the explicit allegations made against Moore. They do, however, identify the relevant criminal statute under which Moore's alleged actions could be prosecuted: sexual battery of a student.

    Under South Carolina law, sexual battery of a student encompasses sexual relationships between instructors and students, when students are between 16 (legal age of consent) and 18 years old.

    In all circumstances where the relationship involves a student 16-17 years old or a student over whom the instructor has direct authority, sexual battery of a student is considered a felony.

    It is not considered a felony if the student is over 18, and the instructor does not have direct authority over the student.

    CCSD officials noted in emails from early October they had not been able to locate or contact the student reportedly involved.

    Moore has not been charged with a crime in connection to the incident, and NCPD said they were unable to substantiate claims against him after a thorough investigation.

    District officials were coordinating with the North Charleston Police Department to turn over evidence in the case so investigators could begin an "initial review" when Moore tendered his resignation, documents show.

    Several attempts to reach Moore via phone listings were unsuccessful.

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