Fayetteville mom: Principal abused son while she was in next room
Posted December 5, 2013
Fayetteville, N.C. — 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.