Crime & Courts

Teacher who won national drama award charged with sex crimes against student

A nationally award-winning drama teacher from Union County was charged Tuesday with sex crimes against a student.

Larry Robinson of Monroe, a teacher at Central Academy of Technology and Arts, was taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon and charged with five counts each of felony taking indecent liberties with a student and felony sexual conduct with a student. His bail has not been set, jail records show, and he has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday.

Monroe Police began investigating Robinson after receiving information on Oct. 25 accusing him of having a sexual relationship with a student, City of Monroe spokesman Peter Hovanec said. Police accuse Robinson of having sexual contact with the student starting in the student’s junior year and continuing until the student graduated in 2015, Hovanec said.

The Charlotte Observer profiled Robinson in March after he won an inaugural Inspiring Teacher Award from the National High School Musical Theater Awards – better known as the Jimmys, because they honor producer James Nederlander. Robinson shared the award with a high school teacher from Burbank, Ca.

In 2016, the North Carolina Theatre Conference gave him the Marian A. Smith Distinguished Career Award, after his students’ original play “BOAL” won Central its fourth state title in a decade.

Robinson has taught for more than 30 years. He joined Central’s staff in 2006, after having been Teacher of the Year at both Monroe Middle School and Monroe High School. He has been honored as the outstanding theater teacher in the state by both the N.C. Theatre Arts Educator Association and UNC School of the Arts.

He’s also a playwright. His “Illuminations” won the N.C. New Play Project at the Greensboro Playwright’s Forum in 2011.

The Observer left a phone message at Robinson’s house but has not heard back.

Kim Fisenne, principal of Central Academy, messaged parents on Tuesday morning that Robinson is out indefinitely “due to an investigation.”

“I know you may have questions about this matter, but due to the active investigation, I am not at liberty to share details,” Fisenne said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Monroe Police Department at 704-282-5769 or 704-282-4756.

Researcher Maria David contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak