On Wednesday, July 15, Boone Police arrested Ralph David Dennis, 60, of 2905 Stone Gap Court in Raleigh. This arrest comes after another joint operation. The agencies involved in this investigation were the Boone Police Department, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce.
“I am very proud of our detectives work in this case. Our detectives monitor known websites where adults attempt to contact underage children in hopes of arranging sexual encounters. We will continue to find and arrest child predators who come to Boone to victimize kids,” Investigations Division Commander Chris Hatton said.
A Boone Police Detective posed as a 14-year-old girl and responded to a personal ad on a popular web site. The ad title is too vulgar to be released, but it indicated that the poster was looking for sexual relations with a young girl.
An online encounter with Ralph Dennis began at this point. The Detective maintained this undercover role as a child throughout the entirety of this investigation. Dennis requested a rendezvous in Boone with this believed-to-be child.
When Dennis arrived at the pre-arranged meeting location, he was arrested by a Boone Police Detective and a Special Agent with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Computer Crimes Unit. Detectives seized items of evidence that they believe shows his intentions with the young girl if she had been a real child and had arrived at the meeting location.
“The Boone Police Department is serious about stopping child predators that think they are going to come into Boone and take advantage of our children,” Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said.
Dennis was charged with the following crimes:
- One count of Felony First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.
- One count of Felony Soliciting a Child by Computer.
- One count of Felony Indecent Liberties with a Child.
Dennis was taken before a Watauga County Magistrate where a $200,000 secured bond was set pending an August 21, court appearance.
WRAL reported that Dennis is a Campbell University professor and former principal at five Triangle schools.
“Dennis was the principal at Cary High School from 2005 to 2007 and Daniels Middle School from 1998 to 2005, the Wake County Public School System said. In Durham, Dennis was the principal at Chewning Middle School from 1995 to 1998, Little River Elementary School from 1990 to 1995 and Eno Valley Elementary School from 1989 to 1990, Durham Public Schools said,” according to the report.
WRAL added that Dennis was currently an assistant professor and coordinator of special education teacher certification at Campbell University. The school is working with investigators and removed Dennis’ faculty profile page form the university’s website.