published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Gilmer sheriff: Victim received 'substantial' injuries in alleged post-prom sexual assault

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED SEXUAL BATTERY?

A person commits aggravated sexual battery by intentionally using a foreign object — any article or instrument other their own sexual organ— to penetrate another person without consent.

Rape, by contrast, is committed when when a man forcibly uses a male sex organ to penetrate the female forcibly and against her will.

The prison sentence for a aggravated sexual battery conviction can be up to 25 years.

Source: Georgia Code Annotated

  • photo
    Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson speaks at a news conference about the arrest of three men on sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery charges following an incident after the Calhoun High School prom. Standing with him are detectives Kirk Champion and Scott Camp.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A North Georgia sheriff says more charges could be coming in the investigation of a post-prom party where a high school senior was allegedly sexually assaulted by three 18-year-olds.

Calhoun High School students Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson were booked Wednesday into the Gilmer County Detention Center on charges of aggravated sexual battery and underage consumption.

Bond has been set at $51,000 for each.

It's been nearly 18 days since the investigation into a post-prom attack began. But Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said every day was necessary to handle the “emotional” case.

"I had my entire detective division except one detective assigned to this case. It's been a hectic time. We've done over 50 interviews.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has also been involved in the case, analyzing forensic evidence. The sheriff's office is also reviewing cell phone evidence, though officials would not elaborate on what it involved.

Nicholson said the department has been unable to determine whether the victim was physically raped, but said a foreign object had been used to inflict “substantial” injuries on the victim — some of the worst he's seen. She was later hospitalized.

Sexual battery means penetration with anything that is not a sexual organ, the sheriff explained. But Nicholson said rape has not been ruled out, pending the GBI's analysis.

The three men were in a bedroom with the victim when the alleged attack occurred, and at least one other person witnessed it, Nicholson said. Though other students were aware of what was happening, no one tried to stop it, the sheriff said.

The three 18-year-old men also were charged with underage consumption of alcohol.

Nicholson described a heavy amount of of alcohol at the May 10 party at a student's parents' cabin in the Coosawattee River Resort, a gated community in Ellijay. He said the party started out as a small get-together between several girls, then grew into a large crowd of 27 people.

“At some point in the near future, we anticipate filing charges on every student who we can prove was drinking,” Nicholson said.

Chapman, Haynes and Johnson were all seniors this year and played sports at Calhoun. Chapman was a quarterback on the football team, and Haynes played wide receiver. Johnson, meanwhile, was an infielder and a pitcher on the baseball team. He is committed to play at Georgia Highlands College.

For more information, read Thursday's Times Free Press.

From left, Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson
From left, Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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