Originally created 02/11/99

Principal arrested on school campus



NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A high school principal accused by police of intimidating people in a phone-sex case involving a teacher and hampering investigation of other crimes on and off campus faces an obstruction of justice charge.

Patricia Edwards was arrested on the Garrett Academy campus Tuesday and later released on a personal recognizance bond.

Ms. Edwards would not comment to reporters at the court hearing.

Detective K.A. Madrid said Ms. Edwards intimidated a witness and a victim in an off-campus phone sex incident between a teacher and student.

Ms. Edwards also allegedly denied investigators access to victims and witnesses and refused to help identify the parents of children involved in other crimes, Capt. Tony Smith said.

"She has no say whether we speak to witnesses or victims," Capt. Smith said.

She is accused of violating a state law that requires school officials to report crimes on campus to police. The Charleston County School District is providing legal assistance to Ms. Edwards, 50, who has worked for the district for 11 years.

District officials said a sexual harassment allegation at Garrett that does not involve Ms. Edwards is under investigation.

District policy is to cooperate with police but also to protect privacy rights of students, they said.

Ms. Edwards will continue working, said Geraldine Urbanic, the school district attorney.

Capt. Smith said police heard rumors of the alleged phone sex between a teacher and a student, which would violate a law against contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Mr. Madrid's sworn statement said that when police went to the school, both the alleged victim and a witness said they had been advised by Ms. Edwards not to tell anyone. The witness said she had been intimidated by Ms. Edwards to the point of tears, the affidavit said.

Ms. Edwards told detectives she would do her own investigation, and if she determined it to be a crime, would report it to police, Capt. Smith said.

Police also were told to leave when they asked about reports that a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy were caught having sex, or about to, in a vacant classroom, the detective said.