The family of one of two victims of alleged sexual misconduct by an Osage middle school teacher is suing the 44-year-old Eldon man, the school district and the board of education on behalf of their child.

An amended complaint in a federal lawsuit stemming from the arrest of a School of the Osage science teacher for alleged sexual misconduct with students alleges the district was “deliberately indifferent” to the fact that the defendant was a sexual predator preying on female students.

The family of one of two victims of alleged sexual misconduct by an Osage middle school teacher is suing the 44-year-old Eldon man, the school district and the board of education on behalf of their child. 

Mark A. Edwards, 44, was arrested in April of this year. He is currently facing four felony charges for statutory sodomy, two counts of sexual contact and child molestation that allegedly took place while he was employed as a middle school science teacher.  

He was taken into custody after being questioned by the Miller County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s department had been contacted about possible misconduct between a teacher and a student. The children allegedly involved were questioned by a forensic interviewer. Investigators were able to gather evidence directly related to the case, including video. 

The criminal charges stem from incidents between April 9 and April 17, 2018.

According to court documents, one incident took place in Miller County on a bus, a second offense allegedly took place during a bus ride on a field trip in Cole County. Edwards was allegedly observed on a video during one of the trips sitting next to the student, using a coat to cover the victim’s lap.

Edwards is being held in the Miller County jail on $300,000 bond.

The federal complaint alleges that throughout his employment, during school hours, on school premises and school-sponsored trips, Edwards began a pattern of sexually abusing, harassing, sexually discriminating and sexually assaulted numerous students. 

The complaint alleges Edwards utilized a sexual predator process commonly referred to as grooming. Edwards allegedly did this through personal interaction, cell phone, written interaction and social media, including video chats. 

Specifically the complaint alleges Edwards had female students compete to be his favorite, gave them answers to tests, quizzes and assignments in exchange for allowing him to look down their shirts, massage and touch their bodies and to make sexually explicit comments towards them. An incident cited in the complaint alleges he grabbed one of the victims by the buttocks in the hallway with other students present.  

There is also an allegation that Edwards may have demonstrated similar behavior prior to coming to School of the Osage when he was with the Morgan County School District. The documents did not provide any additional information regarding his employment with Morgan County. 

The lawsuit alleges the school district continued to retain Edwards as a teacher after receiving complaints/reports about his misconduct or potential misconduct and continued to allow him to be around children and also failed to properly police hallways to help prevent sexual harassment and molestation of students. It states that the district failed to acknowledge and act on complaints about Edwards and failed to recognize the signs that he was a danger to students.

Mark Edwards was arrested April 18, 2018, initially charged with first degree statutory sodomy and felony sexual contact with a student. The victim was under the age of 14.

The father of the victim brought the lawsuit as a civil rights action, claiming a violation of his child’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution as well as claims from violation of Missouri law regarding assault, battery and sexual assault.

While the district has not issued any recent statements, school officials issued a statement following Edward’s arrest, saying that the school received a report of suspicious behavior involving Edwards and made a hotline report to the Missouri Children’s Division. The district also questioned Edwards and immediately placed him on administrative leave and notified local law enforcement.

The statement from the School of the Osage also said, “As always, the safety and security of all students is paramount to the district. Through extensive background checks beyond state requirements and consistent, ongoing staff training we are focused on keeping our kids safe and secure. When an employee breaks our trust, we do not hesitate to respond swiftly, effectively, and to the full extent of the law.” 

The district has not yet responded to the most recent amended complaint that was filed on Nov. 20.

The criminal case is set for review later this month. The case is waiting for the court to appoint a judge. All three circuit court judges for the 26th Judicial Circuit that includes Miller County have recused themselves from hearing the case.