Man fired for misconduct with students

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A Harlan County High School substitute teacher and Cumberland City Council member was recently fired by the board of education after students filed complaints of sexual harassment with the school district.

According to Kentucky State Police documents obtained through an open records request, two students attending Harlan County High School filed complaints on June 2 with the school district’s board of education regarding alleged sexual harassment by David C. Dixon, who was employed by the Harlan County Public School District at the time.

An incident report written by Safe Schools Coordinator Jim T. Whitaker stated on June 3, at approximately 2:08 p.m., the Kentucky Social Services Department was contacted by Superintendent Brent Roark, who advised the department about the nature of the complaint.

Whitaker also took a packet containing this information to the Kentucky State Police on the same day, which included an incident report, copies of signed statements from students, copies of social media messages from Snapchat and Facebook and an image Dixon had sent to a student.

A written statement from a student on June 2 detailed his account of the incident, where he noted Dixon had reached out to him in February via Facebook Messenger to talk about the development of the East Town Mall in Knoxville, Tenn. Dixon later asked the student to add his account on Snapchat.

“He started sending me messages and photographs on Snapchat against a surface I believe was his bed [with his hair done like a female]. He asked me what my sexuality was. He asked me what type of porn I watch and if I watch porn, and he then told me that he didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t have his hand and porn to watch,” the student’s complaint to the school board read, noting he eventually unfriended and blocked Dixon on social media.

The student told officials he believed a teacher, someone he should have been able to trust, should not have reached out to him in this manner.

He added the incident was the reason he decided to remain on virtual learning as opposed to returning to in-person instruction because he did not feel safe going back to school and facing Dixon.

Another student’s handwritten letter to the board said they were in their sophomore year when a similar situation occurred between them and Dixon.

The student said they had a Grindr account, which Dixon had contacted anonymously at first.

“He said he could ‘spoil’ me, then proceeded to ask me for nudes,” the statement said.

The account reportedly stated their name was David Dixon and that he was in class with the student and another peer.

“Then, once he mentioned that nickname for [the student], I knew it was David Dixon,” they said. “He knew I was underage. I told David, and he also knew because he was in class with me.”

KSP redacted the statements released to The Enterprise to protect the identities of the juveniles involved at the time the incident took place.

Following the complaints, search warrants were obtained by KSP Detective Michael A. Soltess for Dixon’s social media records, which included any and all Facebook information, such as IP logins, wall posts, audio calls, private messages, user photos, and basic and expanded subscriber content, from Jan. 1 to June 15.

The warrants also included any and all Snapchat information, such as basic subscriber information, logs of previous Snaps, stories, chats, all images and data stored in My Eyes Only and more, from Jan. 1 to June, 15.

Soltess also contacted Grindr for information on obtaining Dixon’s account records but was advised the social media company only keeps records for 30 days until they are deleted. Because of this, any alleged conversations or photos between Dixon and other parties were not able to be retrieved.

On July 12, Soltess received electronic notification of return to the Facebook and Snapchat search warrants for Dixon. Over 40,000 pages of information and zip files were accounted for from Facebook, in addition to the 449,098 KB file from Snapchat.

Within a student’s screenshots of his conversations with the former substitute teacher, Dixon appears to reach out to a student some time after the incident.

The message reads, “Hey sorry for whatever I said!” to which the student replied “The talking about porn just grossed me out.”

Dixon then appeared to message again saying, “Sorry man. Just gotta tell me.”

In an interview with Dixon, Soltess asked if he wished to speak about the incident and give a statement.

“During the interview, I asked Mr. Dixon what social media platforms he used. Mr. Dixon stated he used Facebook and Snapchat regularly and does also have a Grindr account but does not use it to communicate with any students,” Soltess said in his report.

“Mr. Dixon acknowledged he did make the comments to (a student) but said he was joking around and did not know (the student) would be offended. Mr. Dixon stated he realized the comments were inappropriate and he should not have made them to a student, regardless of whether they were 18 years old or not. Mr. Dixon said he did not ask for any nude photos or send any nude photos and never has to any students at the school. Mr. Dixon also explained to me what Grindr is and how it works.”

Soltess’ social media report concluded on Aug. 17, noting he did not locate any criminal acts or interactions on Facebook or Snapchat made by Dixon to any students at Harlan County High School, underage children or adults.

“The conversation between (the student) and Dixon that occurred was inappropriate for someone to say, but I do not see any criminal acts made,” Soltess said in his report. “I will consult with the Harlan County Attorney’s Office in reference to this complaint and show them the documents to the case so they can determine if any criminal behavior has occurred. There was no child pornography or any type of child exploitation.”

The attorney’s office was contacted Aug. 18 with the documents, of which Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe concurred with Soltess’ findings. Busroe advised there was no criminal behavior and no charges could be filed.

Dixon was terminated from the school district by the decision of Roark and the rest of the board of education, effective at the beginning of the school year.

Soltess reported the victims were contacted and made aware of the board’s decision to terminate Dixon and that they were satisfied with the board’s action.

“After months of investigation, reviewing all the social media documentation and speaking with victims in the case, I have determined no criminal acts were committed by the alleged perpetrator in reference to this complaint,” Soltess said in his case conclusion on Oct. 21. “I have spoken to the Harlan County Attorney’s Office, and they concur with the findings of my investigation that no criminal acts exist in this complaint. I also spoke with Post 10 Investigative Lieutenant Chris Phillips, Unit 50. He was made aware of the case and the findings of no criminal acts committed. Lieutenant Phillips suggested this case be closed unfounded.”

According to KSP headquarters in Frankfort, because no arrest was made, KSP does not possess a responsive arrest warrant.

No warrant for arrest has been made for Dixon as the case was closed unfounded.