Investigations continue in Gwinnett County after what has been described as a “string of sexual relationships” has come to light between teachers and students. The Gwinnett County School District is the largest school district in Georgia.
Last December, a Gwinnett County High School band director pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four students in less than three years. And this past week, a physical education teacher has been arrested after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a Gwinnett County High School senior.
According to reports, Sarah Brooks is facing charges after school officials learned about an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old student. The student's mother has told reporters that Brooks and her son has sex a handful of times since October.
As a Georgia Sex Crimes Lawyer, I will outline the offense faced by Brooks in today's post. Many people use the terms “rape,” “sexual assault,” and “sexual battery” interchangeably but that is a mistake. Each of the offenses has separate sections in the Georgia code and must be defended differently.
Sexual Assault in Georgia
Sexual assault in Georgia only occurs when a person who has supervisory or disciplinary authority over another individual engages in sexual contact with them. (O.C.G.A. §16-5-5.1).
By law, sexual contact is defined as any contact between the actor and a person not married to the actor involving the intimate parts of either person for the sexual gratification of the actor. To put it simply, sexual contact involves body parts between two unmarried people. In the case of sexual assault, this contact must occur between a person who has authority over another individual and that individual. Examples of these relationships can include:
- Teacher, principal, assistant principal, or other school administrators
- Probation officer, or other employees that have authority over parolees or probationers
- Employee or agent of a law enforcement agency with a person detained or in custody
- Employee or agent of a hospital who has sexual contact with a patient while being treated
- Employee or agent of a correctional or juvenile justice facility, or disability facility; or
- Psychotherapists with their patients.
A person convicted of sexual assault will be guilty of a felony. The consequences will include a prison term between one and twenty years, a fine up to $100,000, or both. There are enhanced penalties when they other party involved is less than 16 years of age. The prison term increases to at least twenty-five years but no more than fifty.
When it comes to investigations such as these where a teacher and a student are involved often result in people jumping to conclusions. This means that usually people automatically assume guilt. Just because someone has been arrested does not mean they are guilty.
If you or a loved one has been accused of committing a sex crime, contact a Georgia Sex Crimes Attorney today.