Community Reacts to Former Teacher Plea

For two years, the teacher that worked at Coosa Elementary School on Lady's Island betrayed the trust of his students. Now that Philip Underwood Sheppard is behind bars, having pled guilty to charges of many sexual offenses against students, people in the community will never have to worry about him destroying another innocent life. But the scars Shepard left behind are indelible.

"It just worries me because you trust your children in the care of these teachers," said parent Keisha Cohen. "And to think that they could do something like that is terrible."

This incident has not only put some parents on high alert at their child's school, but in every place they entrust their child's care.

"I think it's epidemic. I really do," said Beaufort County resident Lynn Bonge. "I think it's across the board. It's in our church, the Boy Scouts, it's in the school, there just doesn't seem to be a safe place."

While Philip Sheppard spends the next 25 years behind bars, some parents in the area say the best thing they can do to keep their children safe is to keep the lines of communication open.

"You can't protect children from everything in this world, unfortunately," said Bonge. "So good communication with your child, and letting them know that no matter what situation they're in, they can come to you and talk to you about it, and that you're going to be on their side."

Keisha Cohen says being involved in the community will help. "I think you just have to be involved in the community and see the teachers and just be involved with your school and know who your teachers are," she said.

We tried to speak with members of the board of education, but they wouldn't comment on this case.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,