Maryland Principal Framed by Former Athletic Director with AI-Generated ‘Recording’ of Him Saying Racist Things

A former athletic director at Maryland’s Pikesville High School has been arrested for “framing” the principal by creating a deepfake of him saying racist things using artificial intelligence.

Dazhon Darien, 31, was charged with disrupting school activities in January by impersonating Principal Eric Eiswert’s voice and spreading the audio on social media.

“The audio clip … had profound repercussions,” police wrote in charging documents obtained by the Baltimore Banner. “It not only led to Eiswert’s temporary removal from the school but also triggered a wave of hate-filled messages on social media and numerous calls to the school. The recording also caused significant disruptions for the PHS staff and students.”

Darien has also been charged with “theft and retaliating against a witness, related to alleged illicit payments he made to a school athletics coach, as well as stalking,” according to the report.

In the ai generated recording, a voice that sounds like Eiswert can be heard making disparaging comments about black and Jewish people. For example, the recording blasts “ungrateful Black kids who can’t test their way out of a paper bag” and says, “if I have to get one more complaint from one more Jew in this community, I’m going to join the other side.”

The Banner reports:

Questions about the audio’s authenticity quickly followed. Police wrote in charging documents that Darien had accessed the school’s network on multiple occasions in December and January searching for OpenAI tools, and used “Large Language Models” that practice “deep learning, which involves pulling in vast amounts of data from various sources on the internet, can recognize text inputted by the user, and produce conversational results.” They also connected Darien to an email account that had distributed the recording.

Many current and former students believed Eiswert was responsible for the offensive remarks, while former colleagues denounced the audio and defended Eiswert’s character. Eiswert himself has denied making those comments and said the comments do not align with his views.

The audio, posted to the popular Instagram account murder_ink_bmore, prompted a Baltimore County Public Schools and Baltimore County Police investigation. Eiswert has not been working in the school since the investigation began.

The night before the audio went viral, it was sent to three teachers at the school, including Shaena Ravenell who sent it to a student she knew would spread it far and wide.

Ravenell also contacted the media and NAACP. She has since resigned.

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