Trial begins for former hospital employee accused of molesting child patients

The trial began Monday for a former hospital employee accused of molesting child patients.

Bernard Edwards, 56, has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to the charges – two counts of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of sexual assault, and one count each of child molestation and simple battery.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Homlar told the jury in his opening statement that witnesses will testify about what happened when Edwards isolated patients at Georgia Regents Medical Center.

The teens were patients in the children’s behavior health unit where Edwards worked as a mental health technician.

A 17-year-old boy told his mother in January 2012 that Edwards had been touching his face and his hair and hugging him. The mother reported the incident to the hospital. Edwards was counseled but no report was made to law enforcement.

In November 2012, when the mother of a 12-year-old girl told hospital staff an employee had sexually assaulted the child, the GRU police department was contacted. Lt. Derik Still was assigned to investigate.

Edwards became a suspect after hospital staff reported Edwards worked shifts when the boy was accosted by a hospital employee he knew as “Bernard,” and he was working the shift when the girl was assaulted, Still said.

On cross-examination by defense attorney Jeffery Johnston, Still said he was never provided a copy of the employees scheduled shifts on the unit.

In his opening statement, Johnston said the jury would learn no video surveillance was examined from cameras in patient rooms and outside the rooms. Other employees who had or could have had access to the hospital unit were not questioned, he said.

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