Former local PE teacher accused of having child sexual abuse pictures

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — A physical education teacher at a local elementary school has been arrested after child sexual abuse pictures and video were found on his computer, according to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation began when a woman told the sheriff’s office she had chatted with Anthony Marqui Neal on a dating site. During that conversation, Neal allegedly revealed his past interest in child sexual abuse imagery.

Deputies interviewed Neal and discovered he was a teacher with Cleveland County Schools; specifically he was a physical education teacher at Washington Elementary School but resigned from his role.

Investigators searched his home and seized his electronic devices. On his personal computer, deputies found pictures and a video of minors involved in sex acts. The images and the video were not of anyone local or of children from the Cleveland County school system, according to deputies.

Neal was then suspended by school administrators, according to deputies.

One student told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon that he was considered a good teacher by students.

“A sweet, kind man,” Katlyn Good said.

She was stunned when the superintendent sent a phone message to parents on Wednesday explaining the PE teacher was arrested.

“I was disappointed in him because I never knew him to do that,” Good said.

Apparently, no one knew until deputies say Neal met that woman online. Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office Chief Dep. Durwin Briscoe said he was thankful the woman alerted them to the situation.

“I can’t say how much it means,” he said. “Often times, people are reluctant to call law enforcement.”

Neal has been charged with first-degree sex exploitation of a minor, second-degree sex exploitation of a minor, and third-degree sex exploitation of a minor.

Deputies said the investigation into this case is ongoing and more charges could be filed.

Neal is being held at the Cleveland County jail with a $150,000 bond.

One parent said the message from the superintendent advised parents to talk to their children about what happened. She told Lemon that she could not give her daughter many details and it was still one of the most difficult conversations she’d ever had.

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