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Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, Rhine Law Firm, P.C. represents clients statewide. We Regularly Meet With Clients After 5 P.M. And On Weekends

*Disclaimer: This is an advertisement by Rhine Law Firm, P.C., 1612 Military Cutoff Rd., Suite 300, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28403. The Rhine Law Firm, P.C., is licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina and does not seek to practice in any other state or jurisdiction. To the extent that you reside in a state other than North Carolina, the Rhine Law Firm, P.C., may associate counsel licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction if necessary to comply with any and all rules of professional conduct.

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. This advertisement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, either express or implied. Prior outcomes do not guarantee any future results. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Do not rely on this advertisement in making any medical decision. Please call your physician before making any medical decision, including altering your use of any drug or treatment.

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NC Gov. Cooper signed law extending the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual assault.  Read our press release for more details.



On July 23, 2019 the Rhine and Lea/Schultz Law Firms filed a civil class-action lawsuit against the New Hanover County School District on behalf of several unnamed defendants who were sexually abused by former teacher and convicted sex offender Michael Earl Kelly. 

There has been considerable interest in the case from concerned parents, public and media.  This site will provide information and resources relevant to the case.






Find out more about the attorneys working on the case



View links to news articles about the case



What to do if your child was a victim of Michael Kelly


Find out the latest news



Resources and information for those affected



View the case filing documents



On July 23rd, 2019 the Rhine Law Firm and Lea/Schultz Law Firm filed a civil class action lawsuit against New Hanover County School Board.  The suit was filed on behalf of several sexual abuse victims of former teacher Michael Kelly.  The suit alleges that the school board and administration were negligent and knew about the abuse for years.

Despite New Hanover County Schools officials having ample notice that high school science teacher Michael Earl Kelly was acting in a sexually inappropriate manner, Kelly sexually abused students in our local high schools for over two decades. On July 25, 2019, Kelly pleaded guilty to dozens of sexual assaults and crimes he perpetrated on young boys who were his students. During this hearing, the community was shocked to learn that the New Hanover County Schools system - managed by its administrators and controlled by the New Hanover County Board of Education - had been made well aware of and was well acquainted with Kelly's deviant sexual habits. 

The New Hanover County Schools· administration failed to comply with its legal obligations to report Kelly's behavior to law enforcement, failed to perform adequate investigations, and failed to take action to remove this pedophile from our schools, Instead, the administration ignored multiple complaints brought by students, parents and even staff and ignored evidence that they had been provided with or otherwise had access to -doing nothing to prevent Kelly from preying on future victims. 

Astoundingly, as they had done previously when confronted with band director Richard Priode's sexual abuse allegations, administrators within the New Hanover County Schools did nothing to stop Kelly. Instead, they made the situation worse -by assigning Kelly to a smaller high school where he had more private access to a more vulnerable student body. Kelly repeatedly was given awards, enhancing his stature, and in the small Isaac Bear environment, he was bequeathed extraordinary prestige and authority.  


Of course, Kelly took advantage of his position and exploited groups of young male children, year after year. These current and former students are suffering severely. Many have debilitating psychological injuries, such as depression, along with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Many self-mutilate, and nearly all report severe relationship issues, anxiety, and trouble in school or work. 

The New Hanover County Board of Education has failed to rectify this tragedy and school officials have issued public statements denying they were notified about Kelly's destructive sexual behavior. The denials are directly contradicted by parents and students involved in those interactions. After more information has emerged and the school board's story began to unravel, one school official has "resigned" and an SBI criminal investigation has commenced. 

The Plaintiffs in this action have been forced to file this lawsuit to pursue justice for themselves and other students who were assaulted and abused by a sexual predator who was coddled by those whose duty it was to protect our most precious resource, our children. 




1612 Military Cutoff Road

 Suite 300,

Wilmington, NC 28403

Tel:  (910) 772-9960