Durham County

Ex-Durham County sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer charged with sex offense with 15-year-old

Former Durham County Sheriff’s Office Deputy C.L. Kelly
Former Durham County Sheriff’s Office Deputy C.L. Kelly

A former Durham County sheriff's deputy and school resource officer has been charged with sexual misconduct.

Former Deputy Christopher L. Kelly, 40, was fired from the Sheriff's Office after an initial investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor in April. He was arrested Monday.

He had worked at Hillside and Northern high schools, and investigators believe Kelly acted as a “mentor” to a 15-year-old girl before their relationship turned sexual.

Detectives discovered explicit photos on Kelly’s cellphone of a video “chat session” with a minor in which the girl is completely naked. An arrest warrant states Kelly did “induce and encourage a minor” to engage in sexual activity and take part in video chat sessions “in which the juvenile would perform sexual acts and/or the defendant would take part in sexual acts.”

Kelly was charged with statutory sex offense with a child, first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, indecent liberties with a child, sex acts with a student and second-degree kidnapping.

He began working for the Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 19, 2013, was placed on administrative leave on April 21 and his employment with agency was terminated April 28. He had no promotions, demotions or suspensions on his record.

Durham Public Schools spokesman Chip Sudderth said DPS was notified of Kelly’s suspension and ended its relationship with him on April 26.

“When we were made aware on April 26 of the nature of the allegations against him, we immediately barred him from contact with our students and schools,” Sudderth said.

Sheriff Mike Andrews released the following statement:

“The men and women of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office know it is a privilege to wear the badge and uniform of this Agency. They know I expect them to uphold their oath and this Agency’s creed. To ensure the public’s confidence in the Sheriff’s Office, we must – without question – conduct ourselves with honor and dignity, perform our duties to the best of our abilities, and provide professional service to the community. When one of our own is accused of abusing the trust we work hard to earn, it is both disheartening and devastating to all involved. Our thoughts are with the family at the center of this ongoing investigation. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, and we will respect the judicial system in the next phase of this process."

After his hiring in August, 2013, Kelly was transferred from the Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division to its Courts Division on Nov. 11, 2013.

He was transferred from the Courts Division to the sheriff’s Warrant Squad on June 23, 2014. While part of the Warrant Squad, Kelly worked off-duty for DPS as a school safety officer at Northern High School.

After additional transfers and a stint working within an investigator unit, Kelly was transferred to the School Resource Officer Division on June 20, 2016.

He was stationed at Hillside High School until his firing.

“All of us, DPS staff members and partners alike, are in positions of the highest responsibility. We are very concerned about our student at this time,” Sudderth said. “To protect our student’s privacy, we will not release any personal information including the student’s name or which school the student attended.”

Chief Deputy Donald Ladd Jr. signed and delivered Kelly’s letter of termination.

The letter read, “Dear Mr. Kelly:

Recent events led me to lose confidence in your ability to conduct your official duties as a Deputy Sheriff with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. Accordingly, you are terminated immediately, effective April 28, 2017.”

Kelly turned in his agency bona fides: his badge and gun.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks