Child sex abuse accusations continue to cause strife for Milton man

Edward “Scot” Husbands, of Milton, is struggling to navigate the shambles of his life.

In 2016, he was acquitted of charges related to unlawful sexual contact with a person under 13 years of age.

Husbands, now 48, was an assistant principal at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in Milford when he was accused of inappropriately touching several girls in June 2015. None of the alleged victims were Milford School District students and none of the alleged incidents happened while he was on the job. He denies ever touching anyone inappropriately.

“I’ve maintained my position throughout my ordeal,” he said. “I’ve never once changed my story.”

Husbands was arrested on June 25, 2015, and spent eight days and seven nights at Sussex Correctional Institution until his mother posted bail. He went to trial Oct. 31, 2016, and, despite facing decades in prison, declined a plea deal.

A jury of nine women and three men found him not guilty of all charges on Nov. 3, 2016.The charges were expunged from his record 11 months later, but his troubles were far from over.

Life after acquittal

In April 2017, authors Carolyn Hoyle, Naomi-Ellen Speechly and Ros Burnett, of the University of Oxford Centre for Criminology, published The Impact of Being Wrongly Accused of Abuse in Occupations of Trust: Victims’ Voices, one of very few studies on the subject.

According to the study, “The reporting of an allegation by police – even if it goes no further – can effectively bar the accused from employment in their field.”

After 14 years as an educator and administrator in the Milford School District, Husbands has been unable to continue his career and has been forced to take low-paying jobs to make ends meet.

“I have a master’s degree and I can’t find a full time job,” he said.

Days after the trial ended, Husbands received notice from the Delaware Department of Educationthat an investigation into his teaching license had begun. His license was revoked March 2, 2017, despite the acquittal.

The revocation hearing transcript is sealed by the Delaware Superior Court, since Husbands is conducting his second appeal against the Department of Education Professional Standards Board. He said the state has until January 11 to file their case. After that, a judge will issue a decision.

“Most [of the accused] who were acquitted in court remain barred from working with children, which they described as effectively being like a guilty verdict,” the Oxford study states.

Husbands is working at a grocery store and taking odd jobs. He’s on food stamps and Medicaid and his ex-wife pays him child support. In addition to his own expenses, has full custody of his teenage daughter and splits time with his teenage son with his ex-wife.

Making ends meet has been a struggle for Husbands since the allegations surfaced. A friend that has been assisting with his $1,600 mortgage can no longer do so, and Husbands speculates that he will lose his home in the coming months. If that happens, he worries he will lose custody of his children.

He said he is in debt well over $100,000, and “most of it is legal fees. Combined with lost salary, I’ve lost over $550,000.”

“There are considerable financial burdens accruing from [the accusations,] but loss of earnings is not the sole consequence; the wrongly accused may also face steep legal fees, the loss of a home, and financial pressure on their partner,” reports the Oxford study.

Husbands is considering a GoFundMe fundraiser to pay his bills, but the hardships he’s faced are not just about his wallet.

The actions and comments of others, who may judge and exclude the accused, can cause feelings of shame and hurt. According to the Oxford study, “the stigma attached to being accused of abuse cannot be underestimated.”

In November, Husbands filed a civil suit against 10 people, including his ex-wife, for defamation. Most of the alleged defamation occurred on social media and is documented.

“These people used to be my friends,” he said.

Husbands has filed three police reports against one man, a former family friend, who he said threatened and harassed him multiple times, including at his grocery store job. Only one complaint resulted in an arrest. The charges were later dismissed.

Another man allegedly harassed him at a kids’ baseball game, calling him names and telling him he would see him after the game. Husbands filed a police report, but no police action was taken.

Husbands believes the Attorney General’s office mishandled his case. He sought the help of the ACLU to sue the state for malicious prosecution, but was denied. He also filed a complaint against Deputy Attorney General Diana Dunn, who was the prosecutor. Husbands alleged that Dunn mistreated his daughter, but that complaint was dismissed.

“The state has treated me inhumanely,” Husbands said.

Nearly 100 percent of the participants in the Oxford study lost faith in the criminal justice system. In addition, they found their families also suffered from the fallout.

Husbands’ daughter, an eighth grader, has been a victim of bullying and was forced to change schools. In addition, his mother died in March, following a stroke, which he said was brought on by all the undue stress of his persecution. He cannot afford to buy her a headstone.

“I cry several times a day. Sometimes I just stare at the wall,” Husbands said. “I’ll never be able to regain the opportunities and experiences that I simply cannot afford to provide my children since I have no money.”