Numerous times over texts, a former teacher at Quality Education Academy tried to get two female students to have sex with him and to perform other sexual acts, including a threesome, a Forsyth County prosecutor alleged in court Tuesday.
The students were 13 and 14 at the time, and nothing physical happened. But, Assistant District Attorney Kia Chavious said, Tyrus Khalil Cromartie, 27, sent text messages, suggesting possible times to meet and telling the students to delete messages. She said Cromartie continued working at QEA even after police notified the school about the investigation.
Cromartie of Scott Hollow Drive pleaded guilty Tuesday in Forsyth Superior Court to two counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor.
Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court gave Cromartie an active sentence of 10 months to 12 months in prison. Hall gave him a second suspended sentence of 10 months to 12 months and placed Cromartie on supervised probation for 48 months. Hall also said Cromartie cannot be alone with a minor child without supervision and that he must register as a sex offender for the next 30 years.
Chavious said Cromartie taught math at QEA, a charter school on Lansing Drive, for several years. Winston-Salem Police received a report on Oct. 30, 2019, about Cromartie.
The mother of one of the girls made the report, Chavious said. She had taken her daughter’s phone as punishment and found messages between her daughter and Cromartie. The messages sent from Cromartie to her daughter also mentioned another girl. Both girls were students at QEA, Chavious said.
A Winston-Salem police detective interviewed the girls and ordered a forensic examination of the girl’s phone. The investigation revealed that Cromartie had sent messages asking the girls, either separately or in a group text, to have sex with him. He also asked the girls to send him pictures and if they would have a threesome with him, Chavious said.
Cromartie also suggested times to meet with the girls, saying that weekends would be best to avoid risk of getting caught. He also told the girls to delete the messages. The girls and Cromartie never met in person.
Chavious said one of the girls didn’t know how Cromartie got her contact information and both girls told police that they stopped responding to Cromartie’s messages when they became inappropriate.
Chavious said that a detective interviewed Cromartie in September 2020. He was still teaching at QEA at the time of the interview, even though police had contacted school officials about the investigation, Chavious said.
A woman who answered the phone at QEA Tuesday afternoon and did not clearly identify herself said repeatedly that she was not at liberty to discuss Cromartie. When asked if she could transfer a Journal reporter to someone at the school who could answer questions about Cromartie, she continued to say she was not at liberty to discuss the issue.
She would not say whether Cromartie resigned or was fired from the school. She eventually said goodbye and hung up.
It’s not clear how long Cromartie taught at QEA.
Chavious said Cromartie initially denied that he had sent the text messages, but quickly acknowledged it when he was confronted with the messages. He also acknowledged the sexual nature of the messages he sent, Chavious said.
Harold Eustache, Cromartie’s attorney, said his client was fully cooperative. Eustache said he immediately told his client that he needed to have an evaluation done and get treatment. Since December 2020, he has had 11 appointments with a counselor, he said.
Eustache said Cromartie graduated with a psychology degree from Winston-Salem State University and had dreams of being a teacher. Cromartie received accolades as a teacher at QEA, he said.
“He is very apologetic to the court, to the families of the two young ladies and to his family,” Eustache said. “He is distraught over this.”
Hall said the allegations gave him great concern.
“This type of solicitation of children, 13 and 14, ... there’s going to be an active sentence as well as a suspended sentence,” he said.