MAUMELLE, Ark. – A gay male high school teacher in Little Rock who was fired after a hacker posted his private sex video on a school website is fighting for severance pay and asking for donations to pay his bills.
Former Maumelle Charter High School math and physics teacher Brian Cody Bray, 29, was terminated Oct. 8 after a hacker reportedly gained access to his Dropbox account, recovered a gay sex video, and posted it to a school website in September, the Washington Blade reports.
“Pretty much immediately after that phone call I went to the bathroom and threw up,” he told the news site. “I was just in shock that oh my God, this is something that will impact my career, impact my life and what am I going to do?”
The video was posted to the school website on Sept. 28, and someone identified only as “Johnathan” began texting a student of Bray’s describing the teacher as a “fag” and directing the student to the video post. The texts came from a blocked phone number, the Advocate reports.
Bray told the media the hacker gained access to his email account, which contained user names and passwords to other accounts, including personal files in his Dropbox. The Dropbox files included phone numbers for students he contacted regularly for school projects.
Despite Bray’s explanation about what happened, school and district officials opted to terminate the teacher and he didn’t oppose the decision.
“Of course I had to be dismissed at the time because I had lost any kind of authority with my students there,” Bray said.
District officials also filed two ethics complaints with the Arkansas Professional Licensure Standards Board alleging Bray was in part responsible for the video posting, though the complaints were later dismissed.
“At this school students will always be our priority,” district officials wrote in a statement about the teacher’s termination, according to Arkansas Matters. “To that end, when this incident was brought to our attention in September 2015 we followed protocol. That included immediately notifying the proper authorities to conduct investigations. We are satisfied with actions the school has taken.”
“Bray said that school officials initially told him they reported the incident to the Maumelle Police Department and possibly the Pulaski County’s Sheriff’s Office,” the Blade reports. “He said he was told the FBI was also investigating the case. But he later learned when contacting police that no official report had been filed by the school.”
The Pulaski County Sheriff told Arkansas Matters its Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the hacking.
Bray attempted to pursue a hate crime for the incident, but Arkansas is one of five states without a hate crime statute, and federal hate crime laws center almost entirely on violent hate crimes, according to Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which advocates for stronger state hate crime laws.
“He’s had his life trashed by some bigot criminal,” Marsden told the Blade. “But we don’t have laws at the federal level or in the state of Arkansas that address those exact circumstances.”
“He’s just in the position where nobody had contemplated this particular form of belittling, diminishing attack on someone when they drafted hate crimes laws,” he said.
Bray told Arkansas Matters he contemplated suicide in the wake of the life changing incident, before turning his attention to fighting for a strong state hate crime law.
“We have nothing here in Arkansas and so that’s something I would like to lobby for, something I would like to bring awareness to,” he said.
The teacher also launched a website explaining his story to clear his name, and a Go Find Me page to cover his living expenses as he remains unemployed.
“I need some extra finances in order to be able to continue with daily living expenses, rent, groceries, gas, utilities, and legal fees,” Bray wrote.
Since Jan. 19, the page has raised more than $16,000. Bray’s initial goal was $15,000, and he’s vowed to contribute the overage to local gay rights groups.