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Johnston teen speaks out about sex abuse claims

Posted March 22, 2012
Updated March 23, 2012

— A 16-year-old boy who says he was sexually abused for nearly two years by his former middle school teacher is speaking out with a cautionary tale for others his age who might be in a similar situation.

"I was just trying to keep it quiet. I didn't feel comfortable saying anything to anybody," the boy said Thursday, three weeks after he went to police to report that Paul Clifton Canally took advantage of him from the spring of 2010 until last month.

Canally, 29, a former science teacher at Archer Lodge Middle School in Johnston County, faces more than three dozen charges, including six counts of statutory rape, two counts of sex with a student and seven counts of indecent liberties for alleged offenses dating to 2008.

Five other male teens under the age of 16 have reported similar crimes to police.

"I believe there's a lot more," said the boy, who is not being identified because investigators consider him a victim of sex crimes. "I don't really know when he started doing this."

In the boy's case, he says, the close relationship he had with Canally began over Facebook.

The two, at first, traded harmless messages, and eventually Canally worked to earn the boy's trust as well as his mother's – even inviting them over for dinner at his Clayton home and to the neighborhood pool.

"I didn't suspect anything, especially not at first. He seemed like it was his calling to nurture children," the boy's mother said. "He seemed very much like that was his thing. He (seemed he) was a good Christian and that he was doing this for intrinsic purposes – like to be a good person."

Canally would take the boy to do fun things, buy him things and take him to dinner at fancy restaurants.

"He made me feel comfortable," the boy said.

According to search warrants, Canally started asking the boy personal questions about himself, told him "he was not natural" and that he "might have something wrong with him."

The behavior escalated over the two years. Johnston teen speaks out about sex abuse claims Johnston teen speaks out about sex abuse claims

The boy told investigators that Canally eventually convinced him to watch pornography, took inappropriate photos and engaged with him in various sex acts.

It ended last month, when the mother of one of the boy's friends overheard the teenager on the phone arguing with Canally.

"(She told the boy) the conversation was not normal and that Paul Canally sounded possessive and controlling," according to the warrants.

The boy broke down, told her about the abuse, and with the woman's encouragement, he went to Clayton police.

"I just sat there (with police) and said, 'This is the right thing.' I couldn't take it anymore, and I didn't feel comfortable with it," the boy said. "I asked him many times to stop it, and he just wouldn't stop."

Now, he wants to warn others of what to look for.

"If anyone is asking you to check out your private parts, if they're touching you or doing anything weird," he said. "Definitely, (if) red flags are going up, and you should tell your parents."

If it doesn't feel right, he said, tell somebody.

"I would say that they would need to come forward … that they're being a hero, and they're helping others."

His mother urges parents to always trust their instincts.

At the time, she says, she never suspected Canally was molesting her son, but looking back, some things just didn’t seem right.

For example, she says, her son spent the night with Canally on several occasions. She tried to justify the sleepovers – it was late, her son was tired and she'd pick him up first thing in the morning – but she never felt comfortable with the arrangements.

"You're taught to trust people and not to be prejudiced against them," she said. "Maybe there's something a little bit odd about them. … Trust your gut."

She's now seeking counseling for her son and being supportive of him.

"I've always told him, 'You're brave. You've done nothing wrong,'" she said. "These people are very good at manipulating families. This is their purpose in life."

As for Canally, he is in the Johnston County jail under a $2.63 million bond. His defense attorney, James Levinson, has declined to comment on the case.

The boy and his mother both say that they hope Canally remains behind bars for the rest of his life.

"I'm just very happy that he's in jail and that we're getting justice for everything that he's done to me and the other boys that he's hung out with," the boy said.

16 Comments

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  • semh Mar 23, 7:01 p.m.

    LOL - You blame the parents? REALLY? at least 6 (SO FAR) kids being assaulted? Expect, maybe, 10 more. Canally is to blame. Also, the school(s) as they did not take ours or any other parents reports of his very odd/provocative behavior his FIRST YEAR teaching, many reports were made about him wanting the Science Olympiad to meet at his house and go on trips.

    Please use caution when you post. You ONLY know the news reports. You have no idea how he got into the school system (4.5 years ago) and weaved into the the lives of the students and their families! He was good - or so he thought - the young man that came forward in February and those since are The good ones - THEY GOT HIM! Amazing strength! You should be Very proud!

    As for the young men and their parents, friends, classmates, families - they are all amazing! Continue on this healing road and I only hope you can find comfort in knowing MANY of us support ALL of you.

  • theresalynn0727 Mar 23, 12:48 p.m.

    @superman But in most cases the parents contribute and not only allow it to happen but encourage it. The parents should be charged with neglect. This would not have happened to this young man without the help of his mother.

    Really? Are you or have you even been the parent of a teenager recently. As the parentt of now grown children, you have to give them some freedom when they are teens or they rebel. You must keep an open door so that they know if they need to talk, you are there and you won't judge them. Only trust law enforcement? Have you read the stories about LE doing these types of things also?

  • Glass Half Full Mar 23, 11:15 a.m.

    What a brave young man. He's helping more people than he'll ever know. I'm not going to throw stones at his mom, I imagine she's beating herself up pretty well without any additional help. It's a good lesson to listen to your gut, and if it feels wrong, take action. All parents and children need to be reminded of this every so often. Thanks to this brave young man, and prayers for as much healing as is possible.

  • iknowjack Mar 23, 11:08 a.m.

    "But we must remember, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

    That's only in a court of law. In the court of public opinion we can think whatever the hell we want.

  • beachboater Mar 23, 10:19 a.m.

    IF this "teacher" is found guilty, I hope they throw away the key.

    But we must remember, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

  • jenniferlnodine Mar 23, 10:03 a.m.

    This young man is a hero. If he had just ended the relationship w/ his teacher and not come forward, this predator would still be stalking boys. He stopped this monster in his tracks and prevented the abuse of further victims; and he opened the door for others who had been suffering in silence to come forward as well.

    We are all taught that teachers are noble and trustworthy. His crime is even more disgusting because he abused his position of trust with these kids. His victims will always have problems understanding who to trust; and those problems will likely effect all the interpersonal relationships they have throughout their lives.

    The details of the story make it sound like this guy's a seasoned pro at manipulating children. There's bound to be plenty more victims in this man's past.

    Anyone with a son who spent time with this man should seek counseling discreetly without creating more trauma for the child. They may have blocked out any memory of abuse for now.

  • marek335 Mar 23, 9:04 a.m.

    Here in WS/Forsyth Co have had a lot of teachers charged and found guilty of sexual abuse over past several years. One male teacher, Waston, was doing exactly what PC was doing with young boys. Mr Waston is in jail and his elderly parents are in big time denial.

  • mildredf2480 Mar 23, 8:29 a.m.

    So often parents allow what appears to be a well-meaning friend take their child out for pizza, movies and other entertainment. In many cases it works out fine. However, in this day and time, with both parents working outside the home, irregular hours for children at school and other activities, it is most important to closely monitor who they are spending their time with. Also, having candid conversations with the child about their activities. . .if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. The predator has probably done this many times so he/she is a "pro." They pick their victims carefully, never fearing the outcome. They keep their victims under their control by promising gifts, shaming them, even threatening to kill them or members of their family. When this happens the child should know to get away fast and tell their parents. God bless this young man who came forth and told police, as well as the others who have had the strength and wisdom to put this guy where he belongs

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 23, 8:28 a.m.

    I support this Johnston County teen for taking back his life from this predator and I hope other victims will come forward and do likewise, and that the community will support them.
    I agree with JAT on advice to mothers and, for that matter, fathers everywhere. Don't be flattered and think your kid is special when a
    teacher, coach, or any other adult pays them extra attention. It's not the kind of attention the child needs.

  • ctnorris2011 Mar 23, 8:08 a.m.

    semh, I could not have said it better myself. It takes a lot to have this kind of courage after being belittled for so long. Parents should talk to their children and educate them on these kind of issues. If someone wants to see the private part of your body, red flags should go up and children need to know this so they can tell someone. This kind of thing is happening WAY to much and it has to stop. We as parents owe it to our children to teach them what to look for and when to say NO. I have a 3 year old and I have talked to her about this and I will continue to, because it is my responsibility as her mother to protect her. Whether it be physically or educating her about strangers and people issues like this one.

    May God bless this young man and all of the boys involved. I pray that they can all begin to heal and have the courage to stand up for themselves and help others to know the warning signs.

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