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Our View: Lessons From the Tuscaloosa Teacher Sex Abuse Arrest

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A Tuscaloosa sex abuse scandal is rocking the community.

A Tuscaloosa County teacher has been arrested after being accused of having sexual relations with a student. AL.com is reporting that Tuscaloosa police arrested Joe Bradley Petrey Tuesday. According to Tuscaloosa County jail records, Petrey was arrested on the charge of “engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years.” As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, official court records had yet to be filed. Petrey taught history and coached football at the school.

Tuscaloosa Teacher Sex Abuse

There are photographs portraying Petrey and a student engaged in sexual acts, according to Sgt. Kenny Shipman with Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The pictures surfaced through an anonymous leak, but, according to Shipman, search warrants found evidence confirming the relationship.

It appears that after Superintendent Liz Swinford became aware of the allegations, she acted swiftly. First, Petrey was banned from campus while administrators investigated. He then resigned, and was arrested.

Tuscaloosa County Board of Education provided the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office with materials helpful to the investigation, including attendance records and the electronic devices Petrey used for teaching and coaching.

Schools Have a Responsibility

The Tuscaloosa teacher sex abuse arrest comes on the heels of multiple sex abuse claims in Blount County schools and a Cullman County drug court officer facing criminal sex charges.

Authority figures absolutely have a responsibility to protect the children trusted to their care.

“Sexual abuse survivors need to be reminded that they have been wronged, and they have rights,” said Cory Watson Attorneys founding principal Leila Watson, “the level of trust parents must give teachers and coaches is unparalleled. When that trust is violated, it is wrong and the victim has rights. Sexual abuse survivors must be reassured that what happened to them is not their fault. They must also be assured that those responsible for the abuse will be held accountable,” said Watson. The attorneys at Cory Watson have advocated for the rights of sexual abuse victims for more than 30 years, representing clients nationwide.

You Need a Voice

Sexual abuse survivors and their families need someone who will listen with compassion, and offer sound advice.

Your child has a right to an education without the threat of sexual violence.

Learn more about how the attorneys at Cory Watson help sexual abuse survivors get justice.

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