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Ex-Iredell teacher now faces 208 sex charges, including 97 added this week

Authorities in Iredell County say the list of former students who say they were sexually abused by former teacher John Thomas Patterson has grown again.

Patterson, who taught elementary school in Iredell County in the 1970s and 1980s, now faces 208 charges in the case -- including 97 new counts added this week, according to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. The additional charges result from seven more ex-students coming forward with accusations against Patterson.

The allegations surround Patterson’s time at Mount Mourne Elementary School, where he taught fourth grade from 1978 until resigning in 1987. He taught seven years prior to that elsewhere in the Iredell County Schools.

Major Darren Campbell of the sheriff’s office says there now are 14 former students who have accused Patterson of molesting them. Campbell said Patterson, 65, of Mooresville, faces 207 counts of indecent liberties with children and one count of first-degree sex offense.

The case began in October, when a former student came to detectives with allegations that Patterson -- who was known as “Tom Patterson” when he taught -- was guilty of sexual abuse. He was charged in mid-February with 14 counts of indecent liberties with four or five ex-students.

An additional 97 counts were filed against Patterson on Feb. 28, after more former students came forward.

“Most of the incidents occurred in the classroom, although there were some occasions that the abuse occurred outside the classroom,” Sheriff Phillip Redmond said.

He said most of the students making the allegations are male, although a few are female.

When he was arrested for a second time in late February, several neighbors told The Observer that Patterson was a likeable man, and they were surprised by the accusations. They said he worked for a church.

Patterson is being held under $700,000 bond for the 208 charges.

Observer staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.

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