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Former hospital employee found not guilty of molesting child patients

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 7:00 PM
Last updated 9:07 PM
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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.

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gargoyle 06/18/14 - 09:44 pm
Closed shop investigations

Closed shop investigations (Police Force beholding to the institution they work for) get dodgy. MCG should have turned the investigation over to the APD No matter the outcome .

Dixieman 06/19/14 - 04:01 am

These are hard cases to win. And the jury deliberating for less than an hour is a slam-dunk. Kudos to the attorney, Mr. Johnston.

JRC2024 06/18/14 - 09:53 pm
If I was that man I would

If I was that man I would asked to be transfered out of a unit with mentally ill patients and to a unit with nothing but adult patients. To big of a chance to ever work with children or if they made me stay where I was I would never be alone again with a child no matter what was wrong with them.

whyme 06/18/14 - 10:24 pm
second one

This is the second case involving someone with whom I am acquainted in which the person was accused of molestation of a young person. In both cases acquittals were handed down. It is easy to make judgement calls based on what is presented in the news or what one hears in gossip, and before the case goes to court, usually the accused is considered guilty, especially in a situation involving a child. This is damaging to the accused if found innocent and affects their lives forever; people continue to see them as a criminal. At the same time, in cases where it seems pretty obvious like the Jerry Sandusky case, there still remains the chance that either it is false or a technicality will arise because of the media attention. You want the trial to go without a hitch to avoid releasing a real criminal.

Navy Gary
Navy Gary 06/18/14 - 10:30 pm
Let's hope

Let's hope the jury got the verdict right and the acquittal wasn't because of some fancy lawyering. Just sayin'...

jimmymac 06/18/14 - 11:05 pm

When this story appeared I said one shouldn't convict this man based on a story line. His reputation will forever be suspect due to these charges.

nocnoc 06/19/14 - 06:16 am
3 things

#1. I agree, lets hope the jury got it right.
#2. Now that he has been found NOT GUILTY, how is this man ever going to recover his honor, professional standing and reputation?
#3. The problem we spoke of over the last year and some local media heads defended.


We all know once it reaches the Internet it will live forever and can never be recalled. I too have used it a many times to point out past criminal arrests after a person was arrested and charged again and again.

The fact that this man was found innocent means nothing to those future employers or bonding agencies paying $40 to any of 100 Internet companies for a criminal background check when they are only looking at his old arrest record and Mugshots.

In this day and age of lawsuits we all know fore warning future employers or employers before seeing the arrest record will only result more likely in them finding resume reasons to avoid hiring the guy.

This 1 reason why I have felt there should be a law that requires the media (printed and electronic) to print equal amounts of
NOT GUILTY coverage if their article cannot be completely retracted. A simple requirement of a FOUND NOT GUILTY banner '
catty-corner across the page & face is better than nothing.

Too bad we can't pull up every local media heads "... sources tell us..." comments as easily as the persons electronic media arrest record.

curly123053 06/19/14 - 07:46 am
We Will See

I have mixed feelings having worked with abused victims while working EMS. If the man was innocent then good. But having worked with victims in the past I also know how sleazy defense lawyers work. They manipulate and confuse juries on certain things, and I have seen it many times. I hope that was not the case here. I have also seen these people get acquitted only to be charged later on new cases. Molesters very rarely stop molesting.
If he did not commit these crimes I have to agree with the earlier posters about his honor and place in the community being marred for life. I hope he can find a decent job and earn a living and put this behind him. I too would never want to work with kids after going through this. I just hope and pray the jury made the right call in this case.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/19/14 - 08:07 am
Improper Order

From the story:

Assistant District Attorney Robert Homlar argued to the jury in closing that to believe Edwards the jury would have to discount . . . a witness who saw Edwards leave the girl’s room after he was instructed never to be alone with any patient.

I worked in a hospital many years ago. I was in direct contact with patients every day as part of my job. I must say that it is impossible for any worker on the floor not to be alone with any patient. It is an order impossible with which to comply. The assistant district attorney had no case with which to work. Shame on the district attorney for bringing this case to trial.

InChristLove 06/19/14 - 09:35 am
This comment was made the

This comment was made the other day by a poster. "This makes me sick! I don't care if he has an electric monitor or not he should not have been let out. I know innocent until proven guilty but at what cost?"

Yes, at what cost? This man's reputation and honor has been damaged. This will follow him the rest of his life.

Sweet son
Sweet son 06/19/14 - 12:02 pm
gargoyle: 'The case should have been turned over to APD.'

What or who is APD? GRU is a State agency which makes them have no obligation to turn any case over to anybody. They can investigate their own cases and if they wanted or needed help the GBI would be the proper choice. Owing to the fact that Chief McBride has made bad choices in keeping Mr. Taser Wesley Martin on the payroll then it would be understandable that he would turn the Martin shooting case over to RCSO.

Fiat_Lux 06/19/14 - 01:44 pm
Also, sweet son,

The GRU LEOs actually are state police. They wear the same uniform as the Georgia State Patrol and have the same authority. It was alleged to have happened on state property, just as if it had been a state road, which gives them the authority to do all the policin'.

gargoyle 06/19/14 - 02:02 pm
Sweet son what can be done

Sweet son what can be done and should be done takes leadership . I hope the person who was responsible got the investigation right without undo influence . Apologies for misspeaking , been a long time since APD , now RCSO

corgimom 06/19/14 - 06:10 pm
Not guilty does not mean

Not guilty does not mean innocent.

And you would wonder how and why it is that two children, unrelated and unknown to each other, at two different times, would make this up.

My, he certainly seems to have some really bad luck, doesn't he?

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