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Rape suspect faces more charges

MANATEE — A former Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy, state halfway house worker and Manatee Glens employee is facing more charges stemming from his arrest Monday on a charge of raping a 13-year-old boy.

Brandon Travon Edwards, 22, was already in jail after his arrest Monday on a sexual battery charge when detectives also charged him with molesting another 9-year-old boy, and two counts of child abuse.

On Monday, detectives initially arrested Edwards on the sexual battery charge after the 13-year-old boy claimed Edwards got into bed with the teen and molested him, according to sheriff’s reports.

The next day the teen’s 9-year-old brother came forward saying he had been in the room when the alleged abuse occurred and Edwards had also touched him inappropriately. Detectives charged Edwards with lewd and lascvious molestation stemming from the second child’s claims.

Authorities began investigating Edwards after he punched the 13-year-old boy in the face when the child confronted him about the abuse, sheriff’s reports said. Deputies found the boy’s nose broken and bleeding when they arrived.

Edwards told detectives he had come to the boy’s house drunk the night before after going to a nightclub and admitted to getting into the 13-year-old’s bed, saying he may have touched him “accidently.”

The boys told detectives their mother had gone out of town and left them in the care of her roommate, but Edwards relationship to the roommate or the kids is unknown. He is being held in the Manatee County jail on $300,000 bond.

It is not the first time Edwards has had sexual misconduct allegations brought against him by a minor. The last time it cost him his job as a sheriff’s deputy.

In 2007, a girl under the age of 12 reported to Bradenton police that Edwards had molested her in her bedroom. Edwards denied the accusations, but later admitted to detectives he may have “accidently” touched the girl. Edwards was never arrested as prosecutors declined to pursue the case.

Sheriff’s officials learned of the Bradenton police case and began an internal affairs investigation into Edwards, who had been working as a deputy in the sheriff’s telephone reporting unit for three months.

He was given a polygraph test by sheriff’s investigators asking if he had lied to police about touching the girl, according to sheriff’s head of internal affairs Ed Judy.

Judy said Edwards failed the test and was later fired for lying to Bradenton police during their criminal investigation after working for the sheriff’s office from March 20, 2007 to July 13, 2007.

“You can do all the testing you want for background, but it is not full proof,” said Judy. “I think we handled our part pretty quick.”

After being fired from the sheriff’s office, Edwards took a job at MATS Halfway House in Bradenton, a Department of Juvenile Justice treatment center for committed juveniles between the ages of 13 and 18.

A MATS supervisor said Edwards worked there for more than a year as a security and support technician, but left a couple of months ago. The supervisor declined to comment further on Edwards’ case.

After MATS, Edwards was hired in March by Manatee Glens, a local mental health facility, also as a support technician in an adult mental health wing, according to Manatee Glens Chief Executive Officer Mary Ruiz.

Ruiz said Edwards was hired as a temporary worker assigned shifts on an “as-needed” basis. She said Manatee Glens is doing a full review of staff and patient contacts with Edwards in light of his arrest on sex allegations. He will also not be scheduled for shifts at Manatee Glens until his legal issues are resolved, she said.

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