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Fayetteville mom: Principal abused son while she was in next room

Posted December 5, 2013

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— A Fayetteville woman who says her son was sexually abused by his principal while she was in the next room is speaking out about what happened in the hope of helping other possible victims come forward.

David Ellis Edwards, 49, was charged two months ago with multiple counts of second-degree forcible sex offense and indecent liberties charges stemming from accusations that he molested at least three boys between 2009 and 2011, while he worked as principal at two Fayetteville middle schools. Edwards has denied the charges.

The woman, who is not being identified to protect her son’s identity, says her son – now 19 – came to her, upset, in January, broke down and told her that he was molested when he was 14 and a student at Ramsey Street Alternative Middle School.

"I think it's tough for any victim to come forward. I think – for boys – I think it's a little harsh. I think he was embarrassed," the mother said Thursday. "I don't think he could deal with it anymore."

It was then, she says, she learned, that the abuse first occurred while she was at school for a meeting and that Edwards asked to speak with her son privately.

"I was right on the other side of the door, and my son said that was the first incident to happen," she said.

The abuse, she says, continued into the next school year.

"I was devastated, because I didn't send my son to school for that," she said. "In the position he was in, I think he took advantage of these kids."

When she found out, she went to authorities.

Edwards, who worked for Cumberland County Schools since 1998, resigned in August from Douglas Byrd Middle School, citing educational reasons.

In October, he was charged.

When reached for comment Thursday at First Baptist Missionary Church in Saint Pauls, where he has served as pastor for years, Edwards responded: "There's nothing to be said. It will be said in court."

Edwards' attorney, Jim Parish, has said his client is not guilty.

The mother, however, believes he is and worries there might be more victims.

"I think he should not be allowed to be around any kid whatsoever," she said.

She also believes Cumberland County Schools bears some responsibility for what she says happened to her son, and she and another family are preparing to move forward with civil action.

"The victim's family wants to make sure that this never happens to anymore boys," her attorney, Lisa Lanier, said. "We've interviewed witnesses who are former school employees, who have given us reasons to believe that the school system knew, or should have known, about this."

Lanier says a former school employee, Lee Walker, submitted an affidavit stating that Edwards "spent a lot of time with young boys alone in his office nearly every day."

Walker, she says, raised concerns to school system administrators but that nothing ever happened.

An attorney for the Cumberland County school district declined to comment Thursday, saying doing so now would be inappropriate.

"Had it been acted on properly, none of this would have happened. It would have been stopped," Lanier said.

"Imagine sitting in third-period class and being called into the principal's office – having done nothing wrong – and walking down that hallway, knowing that you're about to be sexually abused again," she added.

20 Comments

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  • tierneemalinadeveaux Dec 12, 2013

    Jack, I sure wouldn't want you to be my parent if you did NOT have those kinds of conversations with your children!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Dec 6, 2013

    jack - "Your children have one-on-one interactions w/ teachers and other adults all the time."

    Sure, but they generally do that when the parent isn't anywhere around.

    Never heard of one ask a child's parent to leave a room so one of them could have a private talk with their child.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Dec 6, 2013

    "It was then, she says, she learned, that the abuse first occurred while she was at school for a meeting and that Edwards asked to speak with her son privately."

    Hmmm...

    Would you have left the room?

    I don't think I would have, but I don't know.

    Still...how can someone sexually abuse a child and a person only a closed door away not hear something???

  • jackaroe123 Dec 6, 2013

    "He would have never left the room alone with my child, sorry. I don't know all the details, but no child of mine would have been sent out alone with the teacher, what he tells my child he can tell me."

    Hindsight is 20/20. Your children have one-on-one interactions w/ teachers and other adults all the time. It's unlikely you're suspicious of every one of those occasions, and if, in a conference, a principal asked you if he could speak w/ your child privately for a moment, who in their right mind would expect that to result in some type of sexual assault just a closed door away? The most logical thought would be that the principal had some unconventional, creative way of relating to the child w/o the influence of the mom. Predators like this are pretty good at flying under the radar. The mom may have figured the principal was saying something like, "Do you see how upset your mom is? Is that what you want?"

  • Whosays Dec 6, 2013

    He would have never left the room alone with my child, sorry. I don't know all the details, but no child of mine would have been sent out alone with the teacher, what he tells my child he can tell me.

  • jackaroe123 Dec 6, 2013

    "I discuss with them everything from sexual molestation to bullying to being teased."

    Geez, how does THAT bedtime story go over?

    "On the other hand, the school system bears some responsibility in that there needs to be protections in place for the teachers and the students..."

    Absolutely...

    "There should never be a time when a teacher is in a room alone with a student"

    ...but that's not very realistic in every situation. My classroom is a trailer. It's isolated. If a student comes by to ask a question after school when it's cold out, propping the door open is uncomfortable, and there are no natural witnesses. If I were falsely accused, I'd be crucified before I even called a lawyer. And if I were to do something so horrible to a student, I'd stand a chance of getting away w/ it long enough to do some serious emotional damage. There is no quick fix that will ever guarantee that things like this will never happen.

  • jackaroe123 Dec 6, 2013

    "Being a one-time victim is nothing to be ashamed of; permitting yourself to be a repeat victim places the burden of responsibility on you."

    You're talking about children here. You're also ignoring factors that contribute to why victims become victims in the first place: They're smaller, weaker, less articulate, less powerful, less likely to be believed; they made other mistakes that hurt their credibility and can be manipulated against them; they're afraid; they're ashamed; their inexperience is used against them. I could go on. You really stepped in it w/ that one.

    "Yes...sue the school system. yes, because once NC school systems are forced to turn over their small budgets that will stop sexual abuse forever"

    Insurance covers lawsuits, and then pushes schools to avoid them in the future. A civil suit based on a just cause is neither frivolous nor opportunistic.

  • weasel2 Dec 6, 2013

    Polygraph the child/perp and start the investigation from their.

  • tierneemalinadeveaux Dec 6, 2013

    First of all, being a mom, I know when something is wrong with one of my children. Number two, I have very open and candid discussions with them FREQUENTLY about treatment that is appropriate and inappropriate from other people. I discuss with them everything from sexual molestation to bullying to being teased. They know that I will kick some you know what if someone bothers them.

    On the other hand, the school system bears some responsibility in that there needs to be protections in place for the teachers and the students. There should never be a time when a teacher is in a room alone with a student. If a student needs to go to the principal's office for misbehavior, the door needs to be open where the secretary or someone can witness the principal NOT putting his hands on the child. Same thing for teachers. Unless they are in an open hallway with a child, there should not be a time when they have enough privacy to violate said child.

    This is sad for all concerned…

  • chocolatedelite83 Dec 6, 2013

    The schools shouldnt even have an Alternative school , we never had that when I was growing up it make no sense at all why send them home when I thought the teachers where there to educated our child, never will understand this system.

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