Former band director charged with sex offense in Johnston

Staff WriterMarch 25, 2010 

The former band director at West Johnston High School was arrested Tuesday night in Pennsylvania on charges of sexual misconduct with students at the school, according to Johnston County Sheriff's Office officials.

Mitchell Lance Britt, 38, who cited personal reasons when resigning in November after leading the school band to national recognition, is charged with sex offense with a student and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, authorities said Wednesday in a news release.

Additional warrants for four more counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of felony sex offense with a student will be served when Britt is extradited from Bethlehem, Pa., to North Carolina, according to the release. Britt has been living in the eastern Pennsylvania town since his resignation, applying for other school jobs.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office has been investigating Britt since February, the release said. He is suspected of having "sexual activity" with students at the school and at his home in Four Oaks in late 2008. An arrest warrant filed in Johnston state that he engaged in sexual activity involving nudity with a 17-year-old student and recorded it. Johnston County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said it's possible that more than one student is involved.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to help with the investigation, which officials say is ongoing, because some allegations involve incidents on band trips to other states, according to the release.

Johnston County school officials declined to release any information about Britt's resignation or the district's role in the investigation, citing their attorney's advice and personnel privacy laws.

"The school system and Board of Education will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities," school spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said in a prepared statement.

Britt had served as band director since West Johnston opened in 2002. He built a successful program that won honors in national competitions and performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City in 2008.

When reached in December, Britt declined to comment on his resignation. But in a letter to parents, he wrote that "this decision followed days of soul searching, and while my reasons are personal they are sincere."

colin.campbell@newsobserver.com or 919-836-5768

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