IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. – The trial of John Thomas Patterson – a retired fourth-grade teacher facing 110 charges of sex crimes against students – dredged up disturbing testimony from former students who claim he molested them. Patterson retired from teaching at Mt. Mourne Elementary School in Iredell County, N.C., in 1987.
In the third day of testimony earlier this week, the prosecution played a recorded phone call between Patterson and an investigator on the case. The jury was absent from the courtroom when the 45-minute recording was played.
Charlotte, N.C., television station WCNC transcribed portions of the conversation:
Patterson: “I’m telling you I don’t know.”
Investigator: “You don’t know? How could you not know this? Everybody’s lying but you?”
After Patterson offers to discuss the accusations in person with the investigator, the officer “asks Patterson if he plans to try and harm him, because the man knows Patterson’s secret.”
Patterson: “I’m not that kind of person.”
Investigator: “But you’re the kind of person that messes with children, and I know this now.”
Investigator: “I mean, are we talking like 20 kids, 50 kids, 100 kids?”
WCNC said the judge allowed portions of the tape into trial testimony because the defendant neither admitted guilt nor denied the charges against him on the recording.
Also noteworthy during the Monday portion of the trial was an additional five testimonies from Patterson’s alleged victims. Thus far, 12 former students have testified against him.
“Five more alleged victims also took the stand with similar stories of being fondled in class while sitting on Patterson’s lap,” wrote WCNC. “The mother of one of the men also testified saying she had suspicions years ago, but didn’t confront her son until 2012. She says he started to cry and his first words were, ‘It’s true, it’s true, it’s all true.”
Perhaps most disturbing was the testimony of another man who allegedly was subjected to significantly more than fondling. WCNC summarized his testimony: “Another man took the stand late in the afternoon saying he received oral sex from Patterson one day after school. He was not one of Patterson’s students, but he was in the fourth grade at the time at Mount Mourne Elementary.” This last alleged incident resulted in a first-degree sexual offense charge.
If convicted on the remaining charges of taking indecent liberties with a child, Patterson potentially faces 10 years of prison time for each of the 110 charges brought against him.