Fayetteville principal sentenced to probation in sex offender case

Joan Dayton (WNCN)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A Fayetteville private school principal was sentenced to 11-months probation as part of a plea deal after she allowed a registered sex-offender to work at Freedom Academy.

Joan Dayton told Cumberland County Superior Court Judge James Ammons she was unaware of the law and thought the sex offender, Paul Connor, could work at the school as long as children weren’t on the premises.

She was facing a felony charge of violating the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

The terms of Dayton’s probation include 50 hours community service and no dealings whatsoever with the school.

The felony charge will be dropped if she completes her community service in six months and pay for court costs as part of the plea deal.

Conner, 50, of Mosswood Lane in Fayetteville, was arrested May 28 and charged with three counts of violating the state sex offender registration act by being on school property at Freedom Christian Academy, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Conner was also charged with one count of conspiring with Dayton and others to violate the sex offender registration act.

The sheriff’s office began to investigate Freedom Christian Academy after a parent alerted it to Conner’s presence on campus.

During its investigation, law enforcement uncovered evidence of academic fraud at the school.

Athletes and other “favored students” had their grades enhanced while students who were not favored by the administration had their grades diminished, the sheriff’s office said.

School officials were cooperative with law enforcement and provided information, including computer files and oral statements, that corroborated allegations of the sex offender registration act violation and academic fraud, the sheriff’s office said.

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