by: Mark Becker Updated:
STATESVILLE, N.C. - A jury found a former Mooresville teacher guilty Friday on 173 child sex charges and he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. His victims said they got justice decades after the crimes. A trusted teacher attacked them in the 1970s and '80s at an elementary school.
You could hear a pin drop as the judge read all the verdicts.
The jury found John “Tom” Patterson guilty on every charge for fondling 10-year-old students when he was a fourth-grade teacher in Mooresville.
Patterson showed no emotion in the courtroom even when he was handcuffed and taken away to prison for the rest of his life.
“He’s had his time to reflect on what he has done,” said a victim, who did not want to be identified. “And now that he’s caught, justice has been served.”
Patterson was arrested in February of 2013 after a five-month investigation.
Five people stepped forward saying Patterson had inappropriately touched them when they were students in the 1980s. Friday in the courtroom, the victims shook hands and hugged after they found out that their attacker would spend the rest of his life behind bars for what he did. They had been forced to relive a painful chapter in their lives during the investigation and the trial.
“The guys that were there today -- that was all 10-year-old kids giving handshakes and hugs,” a victim said. “It wasn’t [40-year-old] men. That’s what it was all about.”
It’s closure for the victims and closure for the community in Mooresville.
“I think it’s very fair. I do,” Peggy Harsey said.
Patterson was a teacher in Iredell County schools from 1971 until he resigned in 1987.
“He was someone that had a lot of people fooled,” a victim said.
He will never be able to touch a child again.
Sign up for breaking news alerts, click here.
Read our past coverage:
- July 10, 2014: Case of former teacher accused of sex assault handed to jury
- April 3, 2013: Former teacher facing more charges of taking indecent liberties with children
- March 1, 2013: Former teacher facing more charges of indecent liberties with a child
- March 1, 2013: Sheriff's Office searches home of accused former teacher
- Feb. 18, 2013: Former teacher charged with taking indecent liberties with children