published Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

3 indicted in post-prom assault; former Calhoun students face trial in Gilmer sex case

WARNING. THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS EXPLICIT INFORMATION WHICH MAY DISTURB SOME READERS.

General Bill of Indictment
General Bill of Indictment
  • photo
    From left, Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson

ELLIJAY, Ga. — Two months ago Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Damon Johnson were high school students preparing for prom and graduation.

Now they have been indicted by the Appalachian Circuit District Attorney's Office on charges of aggravated sexual battery, and two of them face charges of sodomy.

The grand jury hearings were closed to the public, but the indictments they produced were unsealed Monday by the Gilmer County Superior Court clerk, setting the direction for legal proceedings against the three former Calhoun High School students that could end with a jury trial.

After Calhoun's prom on May 10, the three men went with a group of more than 20 peers -- all under age 21 -- to a cabin in the Gilmer County woods. There they drank alcohol, and at some point four men ended up in a bedroom with an 18-year-old woman, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said in late May after a weeks-long investigation.

District Attorney Alison Sosebee presented evidence produced during that investigation to the grand jury last week implicating the three in the offense of sexual battery against the woman.

The indictment, signed by Sosebee, contains no mention of intercourse but does allege that the men engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the woman.

Upon returning home the next day, the victim went to the hospital with her family and told investigators she had been raped at the party.

All three were indicted for allegedly using their fingers or hands to commit sexual battery. Chapman and Haynes are accused of taking things a step further, which earned them sodomy charges.

In a separate indictment, jurors also charged Chapman with 28 counts of sexual exploitation of children for allegedly possessing explicit photos and videos of a minor on his cellphone. That charge involves a different alleged victim but occurred the same day as the reported sexual battery.

Chapman and Haynes were already on probation for possession of alcohol before the prom, Calhoun police said.

A protest group planned to demonstrate at the Calhoun graduation on May 23 but elected not to when Calhoun City Schools announced that the three would not be allowed at the event for fear of "a substantial disruption."

So graduation continued as planned at Phil Reeve Stadium on a Friday. Except, unlike on Friday nights just a few months before, it wasn't Chapman, the Yellow Jackets quarterback, or Haynes, a wide receiver for the team, who produced the loudest cheers.

Instead, the loudest cheers came when the name of the alleged victim was called.

Johnson, a Calhoun baseball player, planned to continue his career at Georgia Highlands College next year, but in the weeks after the alleged attack he agreed to allow the school to release him from his letter of intent to play there.

The three men turned themselves in May 28 on charges of aggravated sexual battery and underage possession of alcohol. They each left the Gilmer County Jail later after making bond.

Attorneys for the three men did not immediately return calls Monday afternoon.

Nicholson, the Gilmer County sheriff, declined further comment, and Sosebee could not be reached for comment.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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