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Ex-middle school teacher gets up to 61 years for child sex crimes

Posted June 24, 2013

— A former science teacher was sentenced Monday to 50 to 61 years in prison for numerous sex crimes against students he taught at a Johnston County middle school.

Paul Clifton Canally, 31, of Clayton, pleaded guilty to 37 charges, including multiple counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, indecent liberties with a child and solicitation, in connection with claims that he victimized seven boys, ages 12 to 15, over a period of several years.

The combined charges carried a maximum of eight life prison sentences and an additional 159 years in prison.

"I wish I could take everything back, but I can't do that," Canally told his victims Monday. "I wish I could say or do more, but I don't think that there's anything that can be done. All I can do is apologize."

Allegations against Canally first surfaced in February 2012 when a former student said he was sexually abused numerous times between April 2010 and February 2012.

Prosecutors said Monday that Canally "preyed" on his targets, "groomed them for abuse" and took advantage of the trust and confidence that both the children and their parents had in him.

All but one of the children were, or had been, his students at Archer Middle School in Wendell, where he taught seventh grade from August 2007 until, Johnston County Schools says, he resigned for personal reasons in July 2009.

Ex-teacher pleads guilty to sex crimes against students Ex-teacher pleads guilty to sex crimes against students

Clayton police investigator Jason Linder described in graphic detail the crimes, which included Canally watching pornography with the boys, taking inappropriate photos and engaging in various sexual acts.

Parents of some of the victims spoke in court Monday, saying their lives have been forever changed by the crimes. Some of the children have turned to drugs, others have had problems with the law and one tried to commit suicide.

"He robbed these children of their happiness, of their childhood, their innocence. He put them in so much pain," one student's parent said. "I have no sympathy for anybody that could be so selfish to destroy someone's happiness and their childhood for their own selfish purposes."

Investigators believe Canally might have at least 20 more victims in other states, including Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where he held several jobs at summer camps and shelters for neglected children.

Although Canally has at least one pending case in Pennsylvania, Linder said most of the other boys do not feel comfortable pursuing charges.

"There are more out there who felt like they couldn't talk about it," Linder said. "It's hard when you are talking with male victims of sexual abuse. They don't want to talk about it."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • 3TeensGrowinUp2Fast Jun 25, 2013

    Never ever ever let your child be alone with a teacher. Ever.

  • itsyoureternalsoul Jun 25, 2013

    Had he been a woman the sentence would have been 61 months

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 25, 2013

    So if he serves the minimum of 50 he will be 81 when he gets out. Yep, that works for me. I hope the victims and their families feel some sense of justice and they are healing.


    If he lives to 81 and is released, he will be a repeat offender if he has the opportunity.

  • sunshine1040 Jun 24, 2013

    Lets hope this person serves all 60 years behind bard where he belongs

  • susanwclayton Jun 24, 2013

    I can not believe the people that are blaming the parents. They are victims just as the kids are there is nothing they can do for their kids but support them now. What this man did was sick and can not be taken back.

  • dont_preach Jun 24, 2013

    Wait, I'm shocked...the comments section not full of people asking why this wasn't prevented by someone? Could it be that people have common sense on this Monday.-me2you

    I agree with you 100%....i cant figur some folks out!

  • nclark1211 Jun 24, 2013


  • indrdw Jun 24, 2013

    Hope he really has to serve all 61 years. Predators like these need to be locked up for life. Can't believe people have so many questions in the comments. The only thing we can do is require these people are locked away so they can't do this to our children. The schools should be held accountable. In many churches that have children and young people ministries the workers are never alone with the children and their are two bathroom monitors. This is done to protect the kids as well as the workers from false accusations. Teachers have no place being alone with a student especially out of school. I would say parents, do not trust anyone with your children! A lot of times it is a close friend or relative that abuses them as well as people in authority. You can't keep them locked up but you sure can make sure they go places where there is someone responsible for them. Not but a couple of people I would trust my grandchild alone with.d

  • Wiser_now Jun 24, 2013


  • 678devilish Jun 24, 2013

    Did not the parents see certain changes in their young children?