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The school principal was framed using AI-generated racist rants, police say. A colleague is now charged.

Maryland athletic director accused of AI-generated impersonation of director


Maryland athletic director accused of AI-generated impersonation of director

03:02

BALTIMORE — A former high school athletic director was arrested Thursday morning after allegedly using artificial intelligence to impersonate the school principal in a recording that included racist and anti-Semitic comments about individuals at school.

Dazhon Darien faces charges of theft, stalking, disrupting school operations and retaliation against a witness.

Investigators determined he faked Principal Eric Eiswert’s voice and posted the audio to social media in January. Darien’s nickname, DJ, was among the names mentioned in the audio clips he allegedly doctored, according to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Baltimore County detectives say Darien created the recording in retaliation against Eiswert, who launched an investigation into possible mismanagement of school funds, Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough said Thursday.

Eiswert’s voice, which police and AI experts said was fake, made derogatory remarks toward black students and the surrounding Jewish community. The audio was widely shared on social media.

Baltimore County police said Darien was at the airport trying to catch a flight to Houston when he was arrested. He had a gun on him at the time, police said.

“Mr. Darien was arrested due to the manner in which his declared firearm was packaged. When officers reviewed his background, they learned that he had an open warrant for his arrest,” McCullough said.

Race-based commentary

On the audio clip, a voice that imitated Principal Eiswert made racially-based comments, including statements that African-American students were incapable of “getting out of a paper bag,” according to charging documents .

There were also comments about Jewish individuals and two teachers who “should never have been hired at the school.” Police said the recording showed a fake conversation between Eiswert and one of the school’s assistant principals.

The viral distribution of the clip on social networks had significant repercussions. Eiswert was temporarily expelled from the school and waves of hate messages circulated on social media, while the school received numerous phone calls.

The authenticity of the recording has been questioned

After a meeting, Eiswert told police he believed the audio clip had been doctored using AI. According to charging documents, Eiswert told police he believed Darien was responsible. He said Darien was “tech savvy and thought he knew AI,” and that there had been conversations with Darien about his contract not being renewed the following semester due to frequent performance issues at the work.

Interviews with several Pikesville High School administrators revealed that Darien had multiple work-related issues since he began his role as athletic director in July 2023. Police said Darien was reprimanded for firing a longtime coach at the school without endorsement.

Investigators say Darien accessed the school’s network multiple times in December and January, searching online for OpenAI tools – which police linked to paid OpenAI accounts.

A forensic analyst and university professor hired by the FBI conducted an audio analysis of the case. The results determined that the recording contained traces of AI-generated content, with human editing that added background noises for realism after the fact, according to charging documents. Another expert from the University of California, Berkley analyzed the audio and also determined that it had been manipulated.

Response from the school management

“As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult time for the Pikesville High School community, Principal Eiswert and his family, and the BCPS team. We are incredibly proud of the students and staff and the way they have supported each other. said Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Myriam Rogers. “As I said then, and it bears repeating, the recorded statements do not reflect the core values ​​of our system.”

Rogers added that the county is taking “appropriate action” following Darien’s arrest, “up to and including a recommendation for termination.”

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