The following press release has been issued by Cherokee County Schools. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Cherokee County Schools (CCS) has received multiple requests for public information today and upon consulting with attorneys and law enforcement, the following statement has been cleared for release 02/10/18.
Cherokee County Schools suspended Mr. Thomas Graham from all school duties on January 26th in response to allegations of misconduct. As required by law, any suspension during an investigation is with pay. Mr. Jason Forrister has been acting principal during this time and will continue in that role as long as necessary.
Cherokee County Schools has been working with local and state law enforcement agencies and has fully cooperated with their investigation. Because personnel matters are considered confidential under state law, CCS cannot make any further comment regarding Mr. Graham. Further it is imperative that CCS strive alongside law enforcement agencies to seek the truth and impart fairness to all parties involved.
Student safety is the first priority of Cherokee County Schools and CCS takes the appropriate measures necessary to provide a welcoming and safe atmosphere for all students, staff, parents and volunteers.
Cherokee County Schools would like to thank the state and local law enforcement officials for the professionalism they have demonstrated thus far. CCS will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the entire process.
CCS conducts a thorough background investigation into potential employees during the pre-employment process. If criminal allegations arise during employment CCS works directly with law enforcement to ensure a thorough and fair investigation.
WKRK Note: Booking photo not available at publication time.
UPDATE: Booking photo added 6:05 pm 2/10/18
UPDATE FROM NORTH CAROLINA STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (2/12/18):
The SBI was requested to assist the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 9 regarding a sex offense investigation in which then principal of Hiawassee Dam High School (Murphy, Cherokee County), Thomas Graham, was alleged to have had an inappropriate relationship with a student. The allegations referred to incidents which occurred approximately two years ago. Graham was currently the principal of Murphy High School at the time the report was made to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Several interviews have been conducted in the investigation and more are anticipated. On February 5, 2018, a Grand Jury in Cherokee County issued a True Bill of Indictment for Graham for two counts of Indecent Liberties with a student. At the time of the indictment, Graham had been placed on administrative leave from Murphy High School. The investigation is ongoing.
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