MAYSVILLE, Mo. -- A former teacher charged with 20 crimes against girls at his school pleaded not guilty Wednesday in De Kalb County Court.
Rodney Thomas is accused of fondling and sexually assaulting teenaged girls.
The 39-year-old man remains in custody as he appeared before a judge.
All of the alleged victims are either students or former students at Maysville schools.
There are ten victims so far in this case, all minors.
Thomas is a longtime junior high math teacher and wrestling coach in the school district.
He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges Wednesday, and filed a motion seeking a change of venue.
The sheriff says it took one brave girl finally stepping forward to bring the crimes to light.
"Authority figures, the children seem to think they’ll get in trouble if they say something or get stigmatized," said Sheriff Andy Clark of De Kalb county. "He was a well-respected wrestling coach in our area and some of the victims were afraid that if they came out and they were the only ones, they would get picked on."
Since the beginning of this school year, the victims claim Thomas inappropriately touched them, tried to entice them into having sexual contact with him, and in two instances the teacher also has been charged with statutory sodomy.
Sheriff Clark says the case is growing, as more potential victims have been coming forward and detectives continue to investigate. He's encouraging anyone not to be afraid to contact deputies and tell what they know about the teacher's actions.
Thomas is scheduled to be back in court on April 19 to discuss moving the trial out of De Kalb county. His attorney, Dan Ross, declined to comment on the case.