Calhoun prom assault witness says sex was consensual

photo Avery Johnson, Andrew Haynes and Fields Chapman, from left, appear before Gilmer County Superior Court Judge Amanda H. Mercier on October 23, 2014 in a sexual battery case from a Calhoun High School post prom party earlier this year.
photo Superior Court Judge Amanda H. Mercier listens as Anthony Rhett Harper testifies in Gilmer County Court In the sexual battery case from a party after Calhoun High School's prom last year. On July 7, a Gilmer County grand jury indicted 18-year-old Andrew Isaac Haynes on a count of sodomy, apparently based on evidence that Haynes performed oral sex against the will of a female student during a post-prom party. The grand jury also indicted 18-year-olds Fields Benjamin Chapman and Damon Avery Johnson on other charges in the case.

View a timeline and our coverage of the Calhoun post-prom attack.


Note: A previous version of this article described the incident as sexual intercourse. In fact, the incident involved oral sex and other forms of sexual stimulation, but not intercourse.

ELLIJAY, Ga. - A key witness in the sexual battery case against three former Calhoun High School students says the incident was "100 percent consensual."

Testifying during a pretrial hearing in Gilmer County Superior Court this morning, Rhett Harper testified that he watched Fields Benjamin Chapman, Andrew Isaac Haynes and Damon Avery Johnson have sex with a female student during a post-prom party in the early morning hours of May 11.

Harper, who said he was about 6 feet away from the bed, was the only person in the room that morning except for the defendants and the victim. He testified today that the woman engaged in the sexual acts under her own volition.

"Did you see her try to fight back, use her hands in any way?," Assistant District Attorney Steve Spencer asked.

"No sir," Harper said.

Spencer cross-examined Harper this morning because he wants to disqualify one of the three defense attorneys involved in the case. Dalton attorney Sam Sanders represents Harper. Steve Williams, one of Sanders' partners, represents Haynes.

Spencer says a defense attorney cannot work with a lawyer who represents the state's key witness. However, Williams argues that he can work the case because Harper is not actually a witness for the state; he is a witness for the defense.

Spencer's key point is that Harper's tone seemed to change after hiring Sanders. Investigators interviewed Harper twice before he hired Sanders. Then, in a third interview, with Sanders next to him, Harper told investigators for the first time that the sexual acts were consensual.

Judge Amanda Mercier has not ruled on Spencer's motion. She also has not ruled on the prosecutor's motion to apply a gag order in this case, which would prevent the attorneys from talking publicly about the criminal allegations until the case goes to trial.

No trial date has been set.

See tomorrow's Times Free Press for more information.

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at or at 423-757-6476.

Previous news report: