Principal accused of raping 12-year-old student found dead

A North Carolina charter school principal accused of raping a 12-year-old student on campus was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted injury, The News & Observer reported, citing a police report.

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Authorities in Orange County found Richard Omar Knight, 35, in a wooded area near Mebane on Friday, WRAL reported. Two hunters found his body and called 911, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Police said no foul play was suspected, the television station reported.

Goldsboro police announced Knight's death Monday afternoon, but said the investigation into his alleged crimes would continue, WRAL reported.

Goldsboro police learned of the student's allegations Thursday and obtained a warrant Friday, charging Knight with statutory rape, a sex act and indecent liberties with a female at Dillard Academy Charter School, The News & Observer  reported. Knight, of Smithfield, was principal of the charter school.

According to his LinkedIn page, Knight had been principal at the school since July 2016.

"This has had a devastating effect on this school and the school community as a whole," Hilda Hicks, executive director of Dillard Academy, told WRAL.

Hicks started the school in 1998.

"I can safely say this is the most difficult school day that we've ever had," Hicks told WRAL.

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