CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – An elementary school teacher in Charlotte has been accused of inappropriately touching several young boys and assaulting them during a summer camp that he held at his home over the summer.
According to a search warrant, Taji Brown’s home along Pebble Creek Way was searched Monday afternoon by police. Brown is a 5th-grade teacher at Billingsville Elementary School.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg School officials told WBTV that Brown, who has been with CMS since 2011 is currently suspended with pay.
In April, Brown was one of 20 teachers honored by MeckEd as the 2017 Teachers of Excellence. The award is presented to teachers who have “mastered instructional best practices and are positive leaders in their school and professional communities.”
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, police said Brown had been arrested Tuesday by the Mobile Enforcement Team and charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a child and two counts of indecent liberties with a student.
Officers say they have identified two victims and are asking the public for help to determine if there are more victims.
Investigators say they are aware of seven or eight juveniles who attended Brown’s summer camp but say they are working to learn if more boys took part in the camp.
According to the warrant, an investigation into Brown began in late July when a 10-year-old boy told his mother that Brown inappropriately touched him in the shower while he was spending the night at Brown’s home.
Brown reportedly ran a program called “G.U.D.B.O.Y.S.” (Gentlemen Understanding Destiny By Overcoming Your Statistics), which was supposed to be a mentoring and summer program, from his home.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told WBTV she’d seen children outside Brown’s house recently.
“We had assumed his children may be visiting for the summer. Because you know, there’s hardly ever anyone there and all of a sudden summer comes along and you start seeing people and kids,” she said.
The 10-year-old claims Brown said “he did not wash himself well enough and took the wash cloth and washed under his arms, his chest and his genitals.” He told his mother this made him uncomfortable.
“He put himself in a bad position being alone with children,” the neighbor said.
Brown reportedly asked the boy’s mother to enroll him in the program so that he could be a positive male role model since the boy’s father was not in his life. The boy and five other juveniles reportedly stayed at Brown’s home overnight.
According to the warrant, the boys spent the night with Brown and then went to a church service Sunday morning. The 10-year-old told investigators that he and another boy got into trouble for talking during the service and Brown punched them in the chest as a punishment.
Later that night, Brown reportedly told the boys he was going to bathe them and they needed to take their clothes off. When the boy said he could wash himself, Brown told the boy “no” and threatened to punch him in the chest again, according to the warrant. Brown reportedly stood outside of the shower, fully clothed, and washed the boy all over his body. After the shower, Brown reportedly told the boy to put lotion on “to keep your skin moist.”
The boy said he was later talking to the other boys about the incident and said he felt uncomfortable and Brown got mad that they were not sleeping and “hit everyone in the room with a belt.”
Another 11-year-old boy, who was interviewed by investigators, said that Brown teaches him about healthy lifestyles and important places to wash and they read books about the boy’s body. The boy said he had traveled with Brown and spent the night in the same bed with him on two different occasions.
According to the warrant, the 11-year-old said sometimes Brown “gives him hugs on his chest while they are in the bed.”
He also told police that he had been hit with the belt and it hurt but didn’t leave any marks. He said he’d also seen Brown punch another boy in the chest.
Another 11-year-old told investigators he had never been inappropriately touched and showered alone while at Brown’s home. He also said no one gets in trouble at Brown’s house.
A third 11-year-old, also interviewed by investigators, said he had never been touched inappropriately or seen anyone touched inappropriately, but said that Brown allows the boys to walk around in “underwear and a shirt or underwear and socks.”
A fourth 11-year-old told investigators that Brown would have the boys write down what body parts needed to be cleaned. If they missed a body part, Brown would tell them what to clean – including arms, back, neck, butt and private parts.
He said Brown would come into the bathroom to check on the boys, but did not watch them. He said one time Brown used a rag to get everyone clean and washed the boy’s arms, legs, feet, butt and private area.
Investigators searched Brown’s home Monday afternoon and took several laptops, iPads, handwritten journals and a digital camera into evidence.