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story.lead_photo.caption Mark Edwards

A former School of the Osage teacher has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for touching a child in a sexual manner in April 2018.

Mark Alan Edwards, 46, pleaded guilty in November to felony statutory sodomy for having sexual contact with a child younger than 14.

He was sentenced during a Friday hearing before Special Judge Dan Green in Miller County Court.

Edwards had been charged with child molestation, but that charge was dismissed as part of the agreement.

Under state law, the range of punishment for this crime would be five years to life in prison, but because Edwards made an open plea, prosecutors said he would face a maximum 20 years in prison.

He was given credit for time served in the Miller County Jail since his arrest.

Edwards also is subject to lifetime supervision as a sexual predator.

"The family is pleased with this sentence and is still fighting for Mr. Edwards and those he worked for to be held accountable for what happened," said attorney Grant Boyd, who represented the victim in this case. "We want more people to take responsibility, and we encourage others who were abused by this man to come forward."

Miller County Sheriff's Department officials said they were notified of misconduct between a School of the Osage teacher and students in April 2018. A forensics interviewer interviewed the students and, assisted by the school, investigators collected evidence in the case.

Edwards admitted during an interview to inappropriate contact with the students, Sheriff's Department officials said at the time.

Edwards is also named in a federal civil case filed by an unnamed student and the student's family against Edwards, the school district and district officials.

In the civil case, the student and family accuse Edwards of attempting to contact the victim through video chats and having female students compete to be his "favorite."

The student and family also allege Edwards gave female students answers to school assignments and quizzes if they would allow him to look down their shirts. The lawsuit also claims Edwards grabbed the student while they were in a classroom and sexually assaulted the student on a school-sanctioned field trip.

Both incidents occurred in April 2018, according to court documents.

The family also claims Edwards violated the student's Fourth and 14th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution to a "fundamental liberty right to bodily integrity" and a fundamental right to be free from unlawful government intrusion upon bodily integrity.

The family is asking the court to award compensatory damages "in an amount which is fair and reasonable" as well as punitive damages, plus costs and attorney fees, in excess of $25,000.

The case is scheduled to go to a jury trail in October, according to federal court records.

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