Ketchikan pastor, retired teacher charged with sexual abuse of a minor

Recently retired Ketchikan High School teacher and local pastor Doug Edwards has been arrested and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

According to the complaint filed in court by police Detective Devin Miller, the charges stem from alleged incidents last fall with a 14-year-old girl. She knew Edwards through his roles as a pastor with First Baptist Church and as a culinary arts teacher at Ketchikan High School.

Police said Edwards admitted to the crimes.

Ketchikan Police Sgt. Andy Berntson said the investigation started in mid-April, when the girl’s father approached police to report that his daughter told him and her mother about the incidents.

“These things do sometimes take some time,” he said. “There are a lot of different investigative techniques you can use. You certainly want as much information available before you present it for prosecution and look at charges.”

The girl also spoke to police, according to the complaint. In her statement, she provided details of multiple encounters. In each, Edwards allegedly reached into the girl’s shirt, under her bra and groped the girl’s chest.

One encounter allegedly happened in the basement of the church when she was alone, playing the piano. Another allegedly happened at Edwards’ home, where she had gone to watch a movie with another girl. A third encounter allegedly took place in the storage area of the high school’s culinary arts room.

According to the complaint, Edwards admitted to police that the encounters took place, and that he had groped the girl’s breast. Police said that Edwards also admitted doing the same thing to another young girl.

Berntson said police are aware of the impact of these kinds of charges to everyone involved, and are careful to make sure they are confident about the allegations.

“In all cases you want to be sure, but certainly there’s a higher level of scrutiny on higher-profile cases and a higher level of crimes, which this is both,” he said. “It’s certainly going to have a big impact on the community as well as the suspect and victim.”

In a news release late Monday, police said the investigation is continuing. Berntson said that’s partly because of the other girl Edwards identified, along with any other information that might come forward as a result of the charges.

Berntson said he can’t say whether the school district was aware of the investigation before this week, but it isn’t common for police to involve anyone else in an investigation like this one.

Edwards had his first court hearing Tuesday morning in Ketchikan Superior Court. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, with conditions that he surrender his passport and remain in his home except for court hearings and to meet with an attorney. Edwards also is not to have contact with girls under 16.

His next hearing is scheduled June 22.

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