Ringgold, Georgia, man convicted of molesting two girls for years

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office / Thurman Carl Coleman

A 79-year-old man was convicted by a Catoosa County jury Wednesday after evidence presented over a three-day trial showed he repeatedly molested young girls for more than a decade, according to a news release from the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office.

Thurman Carl Coleman, from Ringgold, Georgia, was convicted on charges of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of incest and five counts of child molestation in the trial, which was presided over by Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr.

Coleman's relatives had moved into his residence to help him after his wife passed away in 2011.

Shortly after his family moved into their own residence in the summer of 2021, two girls said he had been molesting them for several years. One victim reported the abuse to a counselor at a summer camp, and the other told her mother. It was determined that Coleman had been exposing himself and molesting the children on a regular basis for several years while the family was living with and caring for him, the release states.

After the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office was notified about the disclosure of abuse, an investigation began, and the victims were interviewed at the Children's Advocacy Center in Ft. Oglethorpe.

During Wednesday's trial, both victims took the witness stand to confront Coleman and described the sexual abuse they suffered. One of the victims explained how Coleman would take her to get ice cream and then demand she submit to abuse as "payment" for the ice cream. Evidence of Coleman's abuse of another family member was also presented, according to the release.

After the trial, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting Coleman. Coleman is being held in the Catoosa County Jail awaiting his sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 26. He faces a minimum sentence of life with at least 25 years without parole.

The Lookout Mountain Judicial District includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties.

— Compiled by Kim Sebring