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Investigators: Former teacher charged with 208 sex crimes was investigated in 1987

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STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) -

A former teacher in Iredell County who was facing 111 sex crimes against students had another 97 charges added to that list on Tuesday.

John Thomas Patterson, 65, resigned as a 4th grade teacher at Mt. Mourne Elementary School in 1987, according to a news release from the Iredell County Sheriff's Office.

WBTV has learned that school officials first contacted the Iredell County Sheriff's Office that same year after a student complained that Patterson had sexually abused him. That student's mother did not want to press charges, officials said.

Earlier this year, Patterson was originally charged with 14 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child for inappropriately touching four to five male students during the mid to late 1980s.

After that initial investigation, more alleged victims and witnesses came forward that were Patterson's students from the mid 1970s through the late 1980s, according to the release.

Another 96 charges of taking indecent liberties with a child were filed in February against Patterson as well as one count of first degree sex offense.

"When you are nine years old, you don't know what's going on," said one alleged victim who asked not to be identified.

On Tuesday, investigators added another 97 counts of taking indecent liberties with children after another seven victims came forward.

Related: Deputies: Former teacher charged with 111 sex charges against students

Patterson is now charged with a total of 207 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child and one count of first degree sex offense, according to the release.

The charges are for crimes committed against fourteen individuals where students in Patterson's fourth grade classroom.

"It ranks up there pretty high with the most I've seen in one case" says Detective Sgt. Amy Dyson. "It's the most victims I've had one case."

The first alleged victim came forward to his parents in 1987. The parents notified the school system but did not pursue criminal charges, investigators say. The mother was apparently happy with the way the School Department handled the case.

WBTV contacted Iredell Statesville Schools but the office is closed.

That alleged victim from 1987 is one of the 14 involved in the investigation today.

Detective Sgt Dyson says "I think a lot of people  have kept the secret for so long they've wanting to talk about it. But you know now there's other people they've got the courage to come forward."

Investigators say the earliest case dates back to 1975, and the latest accusation was in 1987 - the same year Patterson left the school.

Patterson is under a $700,000 bond.

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