Former Lincolnton High School principal Tony Lee Worley, 57, was arrested on Friday, July 8 by the Lincolnton Police Department and charged with two counts of felony indecent liberties with a student, five counts of felony sexual activity with a student, two counts of felony solicitation of sex with a student and two counts of misdemeanor solicitation for indecent liberties with a minor. The magistrate set his bond at $47,000 and Worley has been released on a $4,700 surety appearance bond issued by Seneca Insurance Company. According to the release order, Worley is not to be on any Lincoln County Schools property, around any minor children or victims of these charges.
According to the arrest warrants, which were issued Friday morning, offenses of felony sexual activity with a student occurred between March 1 and June 7, offenses of indecent liberties with two known students occurred between March 1 and June 3 and offenses of solicitation for indecent liberties with a minor occurred between March 1 and June 7.
Worley was suspended from his position on June 22 and resigned on June 25, giving up all professional licenses in the process. Worley’s suspension came in the wake of an ongoing school system and law enforcement investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving a student.
Lincolnton Police Detective Jennifer Green obtained two search warrants — one for Worley’s home in Lincolnton and three vehicles, and another for Worley’s office at Lincolnton High School. According to the warrants, the allegations were made by a male student who was enrolled at Lincolnton High School during the 2018-2019 academic year. That student first approached Dr. Heath Belcher, the director of human resources for the school system, who then contacted law enforcement.
Investigation of these crimes has been conducted by the Lincolnton Police Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Gastonia Police Department and the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center, according to a press release received from Lincolnton Police Department captain Brian Green. Preservation letters were issued to a number of social media and online dating websites to give investigators opportunities to obtain search warrants. Additional search warrants are still to come.
Worley is to make his first court appearance on Monday, July 8.