NC Museum of Natural Sciences Notifies Families, Public About Arrest of Former Summer Camp Worker Nathan Elder currently faces charges in Durham, Hillsborough, Arizona and California


State officials have notified families that a man who previously worked at summer camps and other programs run by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has been charged in North Carolina and other states with alleged crimes involving children. None of the current charges stem from activities at the Museum.

Nathan Elder, age 44, had been employed by Play-Well TEKnologies, a contractor of the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the Museum's summer camp programming. As an employee of Play-Well TEKnologies, Elder worked at building block themed camps at the Museum during the summer of 2018 and at two Museum events open to the public in Raleigh in 2017 and 2018.

Before participating in 2018 summer programs at the Museum, Elder was cleared by local and national background checks. Elder was arrested in Arizona in December 2018 and was charged by law enforcement with alleged crimes that occurred in California, Durham and Hillsborough, North Carolina, including secretly peeping and indecent liberties with children.

State officials notified parents and guardians whose children attended the camps where Elder was employed by mail and email about the charges.

Elder served as a contract instructor or contract assistant to the instructor at the following Museum programs:   

  • Mine, Craft, Build Adventure Game with Lego Summer Camp for rising second and third graders, offered June 25-29, 2018 and July 23-27, 2018
  • Mine, Craft, Build Survival Game with Lego Summer Camp, for rising fourth and fifth graders, offered June 25-29, 2018 and July 23-27, 2018

Elder also participated in two large-scale public science events at the Museum where Play-Well TEKnologies was a vendor:

  • Triangle SciTech Expo 2017 on Saturday, April 8, 2017; and
  • Triangle SciTech Expo 2018 on Saturday, April 28, 2018

"The safety of children in our programs is our greatest concern," said Reid Wilson, Chief Deputy Secretary for the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the agency that oversees the museum.   "We want all parents whose children attended these camps and all Museum visitors who participated in these events to be informed and know that we take this matter very seriously."

To date, the Museum has not received any complaints or allegations of inappropriate conduct related to Elder's participation in its programs or at the public events.

Anyone with information pertinent to this matter should contact the Durham Police Department at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29349, or Crime Stoppers at (919) 683-1200.

The Museum of Natural Sciences is offering a free discussion to help adults address the issues of child safety and child abuse with Amy Tiemann, PhD.  This discussion is open to all and will be held at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, WRAL Theater, 11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 at 5:30 pm. 

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