Cops: School Principal Didn't Do Racist Rant, AI Did

Authorities say high school's athletic director tried to frame his boss with artificial intelligence
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2024 7:48 AM CDT
Cops: Teacher Framed Principal With AI-Generated Racist Rant
This undated photo shows the Pikesville High School sign on school property.   (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

An apparent beef between a Maryland high school athletic director and the school's principal veered in a dark direction, with the former now accused of trying to frame the latter with an AI recording.

  • The recording: NBC News reports that on Jan. 16, three staffers at Pikesville High School in Baltimore County, including gym teacher Dazhon Darien, received an email with an audio file attached, allegedly of principal Eric Eiswert. The voice that was purportedly Eiswert's mocked Black and Jewish people, noting that Black students couldn't "test their way out of a paper bag," per a court document.
  • Aftermath: The Baltimore Sun notes that after the recording went viral, "the school was inundated with outraged calls and needed an increased police presence and additional counselors." Eiswert, who maintained his innocence, was placed on administrative leave and also needed police stationed at his house due to threats.
  • Backstory: Darien and Eiswert recently clashed over Darien's work performance, with Eiswert looking into what he says was an improper termination Darien had made, as well as a $1,900 payment Darien reportedly made to his roommate to help coach a girls soccer team—a job the roommate allegedly never did.

  • Busted: Forensics experts found the recording "contained traces of AI-generated content with human editing after the fact, which added background noises for realism," according to a warrant issued for Darien on Wednesday, per the AP. He was nabbed when investigators tied the email account used to send the audio to an ISP registered to Darien's grandmother, per the warrant; the recovery phone number for the account was registered to Darien. On Thursday, he was taken into custody at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where security stopped him over a packed firearm for a trip to Houston.
  • Repercussions: Authorities say the case is one of the first of its kind, and that new laws are needed to push back against AI being used for such nefarious purposes, per the AP. "We ... need to take a broader look at how this technology can be used and abused to harm other people," says Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County state's attorney.
  • Darien's fate: The 31-year-old has been charged with disrupting school activities, theft, stalking, and retaliating against a witness. Court records show he was released on $5,000 bond later Thursday. He could see up to six months in jail for the disrupting charges. Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Myriam Rogers also says a recommendation has been filed to fire Darien.
(More artificial intelligence stories.)

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