The former School of the Osage middle school teacher accused of inappropriate sexual behavior entered a guilty plea the day his trial was scheduled to begin in Miller County Circuit Court.

The former School of the Osage middle school teacher accused of inappropriate sexual behavior  entered a guilty plea the day his trial was scheduled to begin in Miller County Circuit Court. 

Mark Edwards, who’s legal address was listed as Eldon on court documents, entered the guilty plea on Tuesday. Edward’s was scheduled for a jury trial set to begin that same day. Edward’s pleaded guilty to one count of statutory sodomy. In exchange for the guilty plea, one charge of child molestation was dropped and two counts of sexual contact were sent back to the associate court. 

Edwards sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2020. He faces a range of punishment of five years to life. 

Edwards was  charged in April of 2017 when the first accusations that he had acted inappropriately with a student were turned over to authorities. A year later, a second victim stepped forward with similar allegations. Edward’s was originally scheduled for trial in April of this year but his case was bumped to November. 

The case was assigned to Judge Daniel Green from Cole County.All 3 judges with the Miller County Circuit Court cited conflicts leaving the appointment of a judge to hear the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. 

Edwards is facing 2 counts of sexual contact with a student, one charge of child molestation and an additional charge of sodomy or attempted sodomy. All are classified as felonies. 

If convicted, Edwards will lose his teaching certification. 

According to court documents, the allegations stem from incidents that allegedly took place on bus rides. Edwards resigned after the first charges were filed. Edwards is named in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of one of the victims. Among the allegations in the lawsuit is the school continued to retain Edwards as a teacher after receiving complaints/reports about alleged misconduct and continued to allow him to be around students. The lawsuit describes Edwards as a sexual predator.