A former hospital employee accused of molesting child patients was acquitted of all charges Wednesday.
Bernard Edwards, 58, told the jury Wednesday he never inappropriately touched or molested any child on the children’s mental health unit at Georgia Regents Medical Center.
After deliberating for less than an hour, the Richmond County Superior Court jury reached not-guilty verdicts for one count of battery, one count of child molestation, and one count of sexual assault against a person in a hospital.
Edwards was indicted in 2013 on multiple charges. He was accused of inappropriately touching and hugging a 17-year-old boy in January 2012, and fondling a 12-year-old girl in November 2012. At the time Edwards worked as a mental health technician on the children’s mental health unit.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Johnston argued to the jury in his closing statement that the mentally disabled girl was unable to identify the man she said had molested her any further than to say he was black. The hospital employs many black men.
That she picked Edwards out of a photo lineup wasn’t damning proof when Edwards was the only one in the lineup she would recognize from the hospital unit, Johnston said.
And even though another black man worked on the unit, no other suspects were considered once the GRU police officer assigned to investigate the case was told of the earlier allegation against Edwards that was made by the 17-year-old boy, Johnston said.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Homlar argued to the jury in closing that to believe Edwards the jury would have to discount the children, and a witness who saw Edwards leave the girl’s room after he was instructed never to be alone with any patient.
Although Johnston argued to the jury the children could have claimed abuse as a way out of the locked ward, Homler argued Edwards was the one who picked victims who he thought wouldn’t or couldn’t cry out.