A grand jury in McDuffie County recently met for two hours to hear the evidence collected during the investigation of a rape allegation involving a local off-duty deputy sheriff.
Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney Dennis C. Sanders confirmed that the June term of grand jurors were presented the case by Chief Assistant District Attorney Durwood R. Davis, but no action was taken. That leaves the case effectively closed, unless more evidence can be found.
In a letter from Mr. Davis to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Gary Nicholson, who heads the local GBI office, Mr. Davis explained that the grand jury was given the option of initiating the procedures for bringing forth a criminal indictment against the deputy, based on the allegation made by the victim. "However, after consideration of the evidence in this case, they elected not to do so," Mr. Davis said in the letter - a copy of which was obtained by The McDuffie Mirror under the Georgia Open Records Act.
The investigation began March 6 after a woman - who works as an EMT with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services - claimed she was sexually assaulted at a local deputy's home. The woman, who willingly went to the home, and the deputy had contacted each other several times in the weeks leading up to the reported incident, according to evidence in the case file.
The newspaper will not name the deputy - or the woman who made the accusation against him - since neither was indicted and/or arrested.
Mr. Davis pointed out in his letter to Agent Nicholson, whose agency conducted the formal investigation of the allegation, that the state's presentation included sworn testimony from GBI Special Agent Charles Kicklighter, as well as testimony from the victim. Certain records and findings contained in the case file also were included.
"While the deliberations of the grand jury are secret, I can tell you that their inquiry into the testimony of the witnesses was both thorough and sifting and their review of your agency's findings and records was exhaustive," Mr. Davis continued in his letter to Agent Nicholson. "Indeed, their consideration of this case occupied significantly more time than that which is usually allotted for capital cases."
Mr. Davis noted that based on the grand jury's decision, "criminal prosecution at this time is neither warranted nor authorized. However, should any additional information or evidence come to light, please do not hesitate to resubmit this case for further review."
The chief assistant district attorney also praised the work of Mr. Nicholson's agency in general and in particular that of Special Agent Kicklighter "for the manner in which this investigation was handled. The investigation was both thorough and professional and the same was completed in a timely manner."