Viral audio recording of principal making racist remarks was AI-generated, according to police

News & Politics

A viral recording purporting to show a Maryland school principal making racially charged remarks has been determined by police to be a fake, according to WBAL-TV. According to police, the recording was generated by the school’s former athletic director, Dazhon Darien, who was upset that his contract was not renewed. Darien has been arrested and charged with multiple felonies in connection with the incident, including stalking, theft, disruption of school operations, and retaliation against a witness.

The principal, Eric Eiswert, became the subject of national controversy in January after a recording that purported to be his voice was circulated widely on social media. In the apparently fake recording, a voice sounding like Eiswert made a number of racially charged comments about black and Jewish teachers and students. As reported by Blaze News at the time, Eiswert strenuously denied having made the remarks and even suggested that the “recording” was likely AI-generated. Notwithstanding his denial, Eiswert was temporarily removed from his position as principal.

Baltimore police began an investigation and enlisted the help of both the FBI and the University of California, Berkeley. Both conducted independent forensic analysis of the recording and came to the same conclusion: that the audio recording was not genuine and contained AI-generated content. According to WMAR-TV, Eiswert immediately told police that he suspected that Darien was behind the recording due to animosity over the refusal to renew his contract, as well as an ongoing investigation into an alleged scheme to pay teachers under the table for helping him with his job.

LIVE: Pikesville HS investigation update on AI-generated hoax – wbaltv.comwww.youtube.com

Investigators were able to trace the original distribution of the recording to an email address belonging to Darien. Darien reportedly initially sent the recording to three different teachers, one of whom admitted to police that even though she knew the recording was fake, she sent the recording to news outlets and to the NAACP who she knew would circulate the clip widely.

According to WMAR-TV, Darien was arrested Thursday while trying to board a plane to Texas.

Baltimore County Public Schools officials joined the rush to condemn Eiswert when the recording was released. Now, Superintendent Myriam Rogers has said, “While I am unable to get into specific personnel details, we are exploring administrative changes given the immense impact of this incident on the Pikesville High School community and the local, national and international coverage.” It is unclear what those changes might involve.

School officials have confirmed that Eiswert will not return to his school at least for the remainder of the current year.

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