After multiple requests for specific responses to questions from Eblen Charities Director Bill Murdock, News 13 found him Thursday in his office working from his desk and a computer.
“Right now, I’ve just been instructed to give only the statement,” said Murdoch, when asked if he would give any response beyond the single denial of accusations he groomed and sexually abused a student while a teacher at Erwin High School in 1988.
Murdock was in his 30s at the time. The girl said he cultivated the relationship by pretending he wanted to help her and her family. In an interview with CNN, she indicated she now sees it as manipulation by Murdock to lure the then-teen into a sexual relationship with him.
“Do you plan on resigning your position here at Eblen,” News 13 asked Murdock.
“Well, I'll let you know,” said Murdock.
“Might you decide today?” asked the reporter.
“I, I have no idea,” he said.
Murdock indicated the board of directors had not asked him to resign but that he had had multiple conversations with the co-chairman, who did not return News 13’s email requesting comment Thursday.
News 13 then asked Murdock, “Anything you want to say to the community that has contributed to Eblen? Obviously, the girl and her family feel there should be no repercussions for Eblen, but, obviously, they're outraged you've continued to have jobs through the years at schools. Other than wishing the family well (in a statement), it almost sounded like you were just not taking their accusations seriously.”
“Of course, of course, always taken seriously,” said Murdock. “Really all I can say right now, but thank you, though."
Stephen Page, who was principal of Erwin High when Murdock resigned in 1988, said he was extremely surprised Asheville City Schools hired him within a few years.
“And I asked around. No one else had received any reference calls,” said Page, who said there were always rumors Murdock was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student but nothing had ever been confirmed.
Page said after Murdock’s resignation, he learned Murdock soon pleaded guilty to misdemeanor liberties with a child.
Page said, even though he didn’t know of Murdock’s abuse of power as a teacher, he said Murdock, in so many words, had said he would not pursue teaching after resigning from Erwin. But Murdock did, going to Asheville City Schools, where he taught math.
An Asheville City Schools spokesperson said what the district did as background checks is not public record.
Page said he’s certain no calls came to him as Murdock’s former principal and supervisor.
“I would not hire someone sight unseen without checking with former employers,” Page said.