Local News

Sex abuse charges pile up against former Clayton teacher

Posted April 5, 2012 10:02 a.m. EDT
Updated April 5, 2012 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A seventh boy has come forward to claim that a former Johnston County science teacher, already facing a long list of charges, sexually abused him, Clayton police said Thursday.

Paul Clifton Canally, 29, of 148 Buchanan Lane, Clayton, was charged Wednesday with one count each of indecent liberties with a child and sex offense with a student in connection with offenses alleged to have occurred at his home from September to December 2008.

He already faced 42 charges, including six counts of statutory rape, two counts of sex with a student, eight counts of indecent liberties and eight counts of sexual battery in alleged offenses dating to 2008 involving boys under 16.

The new charges bring the toll to 36 felony counts and eight misdemeanor counts, investigators said. Canally was in the Johnston County jail under a $2.83 million secured bond.

Clayton Police Chief Glen Allen said that three of the seven boys were students of Canally's at the time of the alleged offenses and that the others were his former students.

Canally, who taught at Archer Lodge Middle School, was arrested in early March on charges that he sexually abused a former student numerous times between April 2010 and February.

"I don't think this is the end of it. I think there's more people out there," the first accuser said Friday. "This guy's been around kids since he was a very young man. He's been out there a very long time."

The boy was a former student who connected with Canally on Facebook. Investigators said Canally eventually earned the boy's trust and that the behavior escalated to him asking personal questions, having sleepovers and performing sexual acts.

A family friend eventually convinced the boy to go to police when she overheard him on the phone arguing with Canally.

"I was surprised and happy that someone else came forward," the boy said. "I think it's important. If you don't tell anybody, (the abuse is) going to keep on going, and there's going to be a lot more victims. Just go to the police right away and tell them, and they'll stop the behavior, and it won't affect anybody else."

Allen said that his office's investigation remains very active and that detectives also believe there could be more victims.

"We would like to urge them to step up," Allen said. "These very young kids have been victimized badly, and I think the fact that the alleged offender is now in jail and under a high bond may give them confidence that justice will be served in this case and may persuade them to come forward."

Allen said he couldn't recall a similar investigation of this magnitude.

"It's always disturbing when a person of authority acts as a sexual predator among a child who looks up to that person," he said. "It's very discomforting to me."

Canally worked as a seventh-grade science teacher and science club adviser at Archer Lodge Middle from August 2007 to July 2009, when he resigned amid a school investigation into a verbal complaint that did not involve alleged sexual misconduct.

The district was never aware of any sexual misconduct claims while Canally was employed, Johnston County Schools spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said.

But the mother of one of the victims said that she believes the school system didn't do enough to protect students.

The school system declined to comment on the claim Thursday but reiterated that the district takes seriously every complaint against a teacher and investigates every complaint thoroughly.

"Johnston County Schools is aggressive in addressing potential issues of employee misconduct, erring on the side of student safety even when the personnel decisions are not popular," Sessoms said in a statement.