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Former Osage teacher, school district named in civil suit

Former Osage teacher, school district named in civil suit

November 27th, 2018 in Local News

As his criminal case moves forward, a former School of the Osage teacher accused of having sexual contact with students is the subject of a federal civil case filed against the school district and him.

Court records show Mark Alan Edwards, 44, is to appear today before Circuit Judge Peggy Richardson in Miller County for a review of the criminal case, where Edwards faces two counts of sexual contact with a student, first-degree statutory sodomy and third-degree child molestation.

Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Kenneth Hayden recused himself from the criminal case, and a trial, scheduled for May, was cancelled.

The civil case was filed by an unnamed student and her family against Edwards, the school district and district officials.

In the case, the student and her family accuse Edwards of attempting to contact the victim through video chats, and that he had female students compete to be his "favorite."

The student and her family also allege Edwards gave female students answers to school assignments and quizzes if the females would allow him to look down their shirts. The federal lawsuits also argue Edwards grabbed the student while they were in a classroom, and he sexually assaulted her on a school-sanctioned field trip.

The lawsuits say both those incidents occurred in April.

The family also claims Edwards violated the student's Fourth and 14th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution to a "fundamental liberty right to bodily integrity" and a fundamental right to be free from unlawful government intrusion upon her bodily integrity.

The family is asking the court to award compensatory damages "in an amount which is fair and reasonable," and for punitive damages, plus costs and attorney fees, in excess of $25,000.

In the criminal case, first-degree sodomy is a Class A felony that, if there's a conviction, includes a possible prison term of at least 10 years to life.

Sexual contact with a student and child molestation are Class C felonies that, if there's a conviction, includes a possible prison term of three to 10 years.

The Miller County Sheriff's Department said it was notified of misconduct between a teacher and students in April. A forensics interviewer interviewed the students and, assisted by the school, investigators collected evidence in the case.

The sheriff's office said Edwards admitted during an interview to inappropriate contact with the students.

He remains in the Miller County Jail with bond set at $300,000.