A series of 911 calls emanating from Rev. T. Anthony Spearman’s alleged robbery – and his death about one week later – provided some clues as to what may have transpired before the death of Spearman, the former NC NAACP chairman, civil rights leader and Guilford County Board of Elections member.
In the first of four 911 calls related to the incidents, Spearman can be heard negotiating and arguing in the background with someone – presumably 20-year-old black male Jayden Hawthorne – and telling the young man that they could “work it out.”
Gerald Jackson, a New Bern man who runs social media sites for a living, told the Rhino Times last week that he was contacted by the 20-year-old Hawthorne, who claimed to Jackson that Spearman sexually assaulted him on Wednesday, July 13 – the day of the 911 call in which Spearman can be heard arguing in the background and attempting to negotiate some sort of deal.
Hawthorne also told Jackson that he, Hawthorne, recorded some of the sexual assault on his cell phone video.
According to Jackson, Hawthorne told him that Spearman had texted the young man earlier that day and asked him to clean the gutters. After that, according to this account, Hawthorne told Jackson that, as part of a prayer ritual over the young man’s financial situation, Spearman began anointing and rubbing Hawthorne’s bare feet and then moving his hands up the legs, when it soon became a sexual assault.
In the first 911 call on July 13, Spearman can be heard saying, “Listen, Listen, man, didn’t I tell you that I would work it out with you?”
After an inaudible response, Spearman added, “Not like that, either.”
In a 911 call later that day, Spearman claimed he had been robbed by Hawthorne, who had been doing odd jobs for Spearman for five years before this incident.
Spearman told the 911 operator on that call that the young man had assaulted him and robbed him and taken his phone and was attempting to obtain money using a financial app on the phone.
During the 911 call that came before the robbery call, Spearman, for most of the time, was speaking to someone in the background rather than to the 911 operator. For an extended period during that first 911 call, there was no response to the operator’s questions.
When a deputy arrived at the house after the first call for a welfare check, the deputy was told, presumably by Spearman, that the caller thought he would need help, but the person who was the cause of that concern had since left.
Jackson and many others have speculated that the expected disclosure of that supposed sexual assault led Spearman to take his own life. However, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department put out the following statement on Friday, July 22: “The Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the circumstances of Dr. Spearman’s death and has not yet reached a conclusion as to the cause of death. Any information presently circulating as to the cause of death has not originated from the Sheriff’s Office. Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 132-1.4, and because this is an ongoing investigation, no further information will be released at this time.”