More victims identified in Ballantyne school teacher fondling case

Disturbing allegations emerge at a local preschool. Two more children coming forward --- saying a teacher touched them inappropriately.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are shocking new allegations in the sex abuse case against a local teacher, accused of fondling two young boys.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police announced that Joseph Barnes is now facing charges for two additional victims.

Police say it happened while Starnes was a teacher at Primrose School of Ballantyne.

Starnes was initially charged for sexually abusing two other boys, 7- and 8-years-old. Police say the investigation began when the 8-year-old boy told his parents what happened. Starnes was charged with six counts of indecent liberties with a child for those incidents.  

Now, he's facing two more counts of that same charge, as well as four counts of indecent liberties with a student by a teacher.

"To see this man in the hallway for years and to know what he was doing makes me sick," said Tanisha Rose, a parent. 

Rose says her 4-year-old daughter has attended the school for nearly three years. 

"We actually moved to the Ballantyne area to attend this school," she explained. 

However, Rose says her daughter will go to school elsewhere after this week.

"She has a great teacher, Rose said. "But I think that they should be shut down."

Rose says teachers at the school were aware of Starnes and tried to report his inappropriate behavior.

"Not only did they tell management that this has been going on for a number of years, but they also called the state and nothing was done," Rose said. "He was being counseled a year or two ago about not letting little boys sit on his lap so the school absolutely knew about this."

Rose says about several parents in her daughter's class also plan to remove their children from the school.

Other parents plan to stick it out at Primrose.

"It can happen anywhere, even if I move my kid to somewhere else, who knows," said Ajeeb Petr.  

Petr's 4-year-old son attends Primrose and he says the school has been good to him. 

"They keep giving updates by mail and by phone so I'm comfortable with their actions so far," he said.

The Primrose School did not comment on new charges, but in a previous statement said, "all employees…undergo the criminal background check process as well as reference checks and working interviews. We are fully cooperating with authorities as their investigation of Mr. Starnes continues."

Starnes remains in custody, where he will face those additional charges.

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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