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Teacher arrested, accused of using AI to falsely paint boss as racist and antisemitic

Dazhon Darien, a physical education teacher and the athletic director at Pikesville High School in Maryland, created a fake audio recording of the principal spewing hateful comments, authorities say.
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A Maryland high school teacher was arrested after he allegedly used artificial intelligence to create phony audio, planting racist and antisemitic words into the voice of his boss, authorities said Thursday.

Dazhon Darien, a physical education teacher and the athletic director at Pikesville High School, was accused of falsifying the voice of principal Eric Eiswert in January, authorities said.

"We now have conclusive evidence that the recording was not authentic," Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough told reporters in Towson. "It’s been determined the recording was generated through the use of artificial intelligence technology."

Darien was charged with disrupting school activities and other counts.

"As you could imagine, this has been a very difficult time for [the] Pikesville High School community, principal Eiswert and his family," Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Myriam Rogers said.

A judge signed on Wednesday afternoon an arrest warrant for Darien, who was caught Thursday morning at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Darien was scheduled to fly to Houston when security questioned whether he had properly packed his gun for travel, McCullough said.

Darien's name was run through police records, and the warrant showed up, leading to his arrest, McCullough added.

McCullough stopped short of saying whether Darien was seeking to flee.

Darien was also charged with theft, retaliation against a witness and stalking.

He and Eiswert had been at odds over “work performance challenges” with Darien’s contract possibly “not being renewed next semester,” according to the arrest warrant.

"Through their investigation, detectives allege that Mr. Darien, who was athletic director at the high school, made the recording to retaliate against the principal, who had launched an investigation into the potential mishandling of school funds," McCullough said.

Eiswert had been following up on a $1,916 payment Darien allegedly authorized for an assistant girls soccer coach, who the head coach and players said never assisted the team, police said.

Eiswert had also reprimanded Darien for terminating a coach without his approval, police said.

Eiswert was widely admonished when the viral audio seemed to capture him spewing hateful rhetoric, mocking Black and Jewish people.

The voice initially believed to have been Eiswert's said Black students were unable to "test their way out of a paper bag," according to the court document.

"The recording went on to make disparaging comments about Jewish individuals and two teachers ... who 'should have never been hired' at the school," the warrant said.

Eiswert has always insisted that the recording, which was sent to Darien and two other teachers the night of Jan. 16, was fake.

The audio spread quickly on social media and "had profound repercussions," causing "significant disruptions for the PHS staff and students," according to the arrest warrant.

Eiswert has been on paid administrative leave since the recording went viral.

District appointees have run the school since Eiswert's departure, and the temporary administrators will stay on the job through the end of the school year, Rogers said.

"We will work with principal Eiswert and the Pikesville community concerning next year," Rogers added.

Investigators linked the email, which was used to send the audio, to an internet service provider registered to Darien's grandmother, according to the warrant.

The recovery phone number for the Google account had a 213 area code, registered to Darien, a Southern California native, police said.

A forensic analyst contracted by the FBI also found that the recording "contained traces of AI-generated content with human editing after the fact," the arrest warrant said.

Darien was shown to have used the Baltimore County Public Schools' network to access OpenAI tools and Microsoft Bing Chat services on Dec. 18 and 19 and Jan. 15, a day before the audio clip was sent out, police said.

Darien and his family could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The school district will seek to fire Darien, Rogers said.

Eiswert could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

A rep for the principal’s union said he’s relieved that “responsible people are being held accountable,” but is worried that harm caused by the fake audio could be long-lasting.

“I continue to be concerned about the damage these actions have caused for Principal Eiswert, his family, the students and staff of Pikesville High School, and the Black and Jewish community members,” Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employee executive director Billy Burke said in a statement. “I hope there is deliberate action to heal the trauma caused by the fake audio and that all people can feel restored.”