Baltimore High School Teacher Arrested for Making Deepfake Audio of School Principal Sounding Racist

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 05, 2024

A Baltimore County high school teacher has been arrested for allegedly making a deepfake audio of his school’s principal making racist statements. 

This deepfake audio recording had been spread online, enraging parents and the community alike. However, once an investigation was opened, those in Baltimore County were shocked to learn that it was completely fake — and that a teacher had been the one to make it.

A Deepfake Recording

The principal of Pikesville High School in Baltimore, Maryland, Eric Eiswert, had previously been accused of making racist statements after a voice recording of the principal was spread online.

A person walking in a school library; a close up of recording sound waves.

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The recording quickly went viral online, making the Baltimore County community outraged that a high school principal would be saying such things.

Alleged Racist Remarks

According to the reporting that followed, the voice recording was apparently of Principal Eiswert making racist and inflammatory remarks about Jewish people, black teachers, and black students’ test scores.

Many old desks in a school classroom.

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Immediately, an investigation was opened into this matter by Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Myriam Rogers. Baltimore County Police Department also opened an investigation.

The Discovery of the Truth

Quickly, Baltimore County police realized the voice recording wasn’t authentic. Instead, they found it had been generated through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

A student sitting at a desk and working on an assignment in class.

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This led to the police opening up their investigation and beginning to search for the person who made — and spread — this fake recording online. Eventually, their investigation led to Baltimore County teacher, Dazhon Darien, 31.

The Creation of a Deepfake Audio

According to police, Darien created this deepfake audio of his boss. Their investigation revealed that Darien had searched for AI software and tools, such as OpenAI and Microsoft’s Bing Chat.

A close-up of many empty school desks.

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Once he made this fake recording of Eiswert, Darien then sent the fake recording to his email, as well as the emails of two other employees at the high school. This email had “Pikesville Principal – Disturbing Recording” as the subject line.

Allegations Against Darien

Darien, who was the athletic director at Pikesville High School, evidently chose to make this recording and frame his principal for racist accusations after he became aware that he was being looked into.

A high school’s stadium field with people watching a game.

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Police believe that Darien did this because Eiswert began to investigate Darien for mishandling public school funds.


Mishandling School Funding

According to the Baltimore Sun’s reporting, Darien had sent a payment of about $2,000 to his roommate. To get away with doing this, Darien lied and said that his roommate was an assistant coach for the girl’s soccer team at the high school.

A close-up of long school desks and benches.

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This mishandling of district funds eventually led to Eiswert opening up an investigation into Darien. In turn, Darien then began to make the deepfake recording of Eiswert. 


Darien’s Arrest

Police have stated that Darien was arrested at the Baltimore International Airport after he tried to board a flight to Houston, Texas.

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Darien was stopped by airport officials because of how he had put his declared firearm in his checked luggage. Officials then searched for his name, only to find out that he had an arrest warrant.


Released on Bond

While Darien was alleged to have made this deepfake audio recording, he has already been released from jail on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

A close-up of high school lockers of many different colors.

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Darien faces charges for his alleged crimes, including retaliation against a witness, disruption of school operations, theft, and stalking.


The School’s Next Steps

Now, the school district is already looking at the next steps they need to take. According to Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Myriam Rogers, this entire situation has been “a very difficult time” for the principal, his family, and the entire school district.

The back of a yellow school bus seen in the daytime.

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Rogers also stated that the school district would be recommending Darien’s termination in the near future after his arrest.


Threats Against Eiswert

Since this fake recording went viral online earlier this year, Principal Eiswert has faced many threats, some against his life.

A close-up of gray lockers in a school.

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After having been placed on leave while the investigation continued, Eiswert also had to have a police presence outside his house because of the death threats he was receiving.


The Concern of AI

Experts have long been warning about how AI could potentially harm regular people. This case seemingly confirms that these worries have been warranted. Hany Farid, a University of California, Berkeley professor who specializes in digital forensics, has further explained what our new future may be.

A rendering of a brain depicting AI and a super computer.

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“What’s so particularly poignant here is that this is a Baltimore school principal. This is not Taylor Swift. It’s not Joe Biden. It’s not Elon Musk. It’s just some guy trying to get through his day,” Farid said. “It shows you the vulnerability. How anybody can create this stuff and they can weaponize it against anybody.”