A former principal in Wake and Durham counties pleaded guilty Monday to soliciting a child by computer in Watauga County Superior Court. He was sentenced to 48 months of supervised probation.
Ralph David Dennis’ guilty plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors in which they dropped two other charges against him. Last July, Boone police charged Dennis with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, soliciting a child by computer and taking indecent liberties with a child.
Boone police said Dennis had posted an ad on a website where adults attempt to contact underage children in hopes of arranging sexual encounters. Police said Dennis, who lived in Raleigh, had set up a meeting for sex in Boone with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl but who turned out to be a Boone police detective.
Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus sentenced Dennis on Monday, according to the clerks office.
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Dennis worked in public education in North Carolina for 30 years, ending in 2007, and spent most of his career working for the Wake and Durham school systems. He joined the Durham Public School System in 1986 and lists work as a principal at three Durham schools on his LinkedIn networking page: Eno Valley Elementary from 1989 to 1990, Little River Elementary from 1990 to 1995 and Chewning Middle from 1995 to 1998.
From 1998 to 2005, Dennis was principal of Daniels Middle School in Raleigh and was named the Wake County PTA Council Outstanding Principal of the Year in 2003. He was principal of Cary High School from 2005 to 2007.
After retiring, Dennis joined the faculty of Campbell University, where he had received his Ph.D. in 1993, and was director of the special education teacher certification program. Haven Hottel, a spokeswoman for the university, said Dennis is no longer working for Campbell.