Former Ketchikan High School teacher and local pastor Doug Edwards was sentenced Thursday to serve six years in jail for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl who was a student and member of his congregation.
Edwards was charged last spring with sexual abuse of a minor for abusing a 14-year-old girl at Ketchikan High School, at his home and at the church where he was a pastor. He pleaded guilty in early February to one consolidated charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor through a plea agreement.
During the sentencing hearing, Superior Court Judge William Carey accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Edwards to 18 years with 12 years suspended. Edwards will be eligible for good time, which could cut his time in jail by up to a third.
Once released, Edwards will face 10 years’ probation and will have to register as a sex offender.
The victim and her family had an opportunity to speak during the sentencing hearing. The victim participated by phone and declined to comment. But her mother and grandmother both spoke.
Her mother read from her daughter’s written statement, then later addressed Edwards directly.
“The trust that you broke is perhaps the most sickening thing in all of this,” she said. “We trusted you with our most valuable possessions: our children. You are a shepherd, supposedly watching out for your flock. But instead you are the wolf, devouring many.”
The victim’s grandmother said her granddaughter is a hero for speaking out about Edwards.
“She showed Christlike love when she thought of his family before she thought of reporting him,” she said. “He claimed to be a Christian, which meant he should have been Christlike, and yet he didn’t even think of his own family above himself.”
The family does not agree with the terms of the plea agreement. They asked the judge to consider a longer sentence.
Edwards also spoke, saying he’s deeply sorry for the pain and distress his actions caused the victim and her family, as well as his own family, his church, the school district and the community.
“To have been in such a prominent position and to have been so trusted makes my crime that much greater. There is no justification for my sin,” he said. “Anything called repentance requires tangible evidence to prove that it’s real. I am committed to live out the rest of my life showing the change in my heart and the regret for my actions.”
Carey agreed with the victim’s grandmother that her granddaughter is a hero for coming forward. Carey called Edwards’ actions appalling and said they will have long-term effects, especially on the victim and her family.
“And my heart goes out to them for that,” he said. “She is never going to be the same, Mr. Edwards. This is going to stay with her (for) her entire life. This is going to stay with her family and those who are closest to her.”
Carey added that there have been collateral effects throughout the community.
Carey said the plea agreement is reasonable for this case. The judge said 10 years of probation and 12 years suspended jail time should provide a significant incentive for the 60-year-old Edwards to behave once released.