At the request of the victim's family, Superior Court Judge Don Thompson reduced the sentence for a Lookout Mountain man convicted of having an illegal sexual relationship with a person with severe autism.
Judge Thompson, in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, convicted Jimmy George, 79, on five counts of exploitation or intimidation of a disabled adult during a bench trial in August. George testified that he has a sexual relationship with the man, who was 23. But he believed the relationship was consensual.
The victim's father told the Times Free Press that his son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and has an IQ of 69. He said his son is sometimes afraid to upset people and will go along with actions even if he does not want to. He could not consent to a sexual relationship.
Thompson sentenced George to 20 years in prison in August. But on Tuesday, he accepted an agreement between the defense attorney and the prosecution to reduce George's punishment. He will serve 2 years in prison, followed by 18 years on probation.
The victim's father said the family felt the original sentence caused too much pain to George's daughter, Georgianna Pollock. She and George co-owned Rock Bluff Stables on Lookout Mountain, and Pollock oversaw an equine therapy program.
The victim did not participate in the program, and Pollock previously told the Times Free Press that George did not interact with any of the program's clients. The victim's father said he believed George used his daughter's program as an excuse to get close to the victim.
"We don't want him dying in prison for his daughter Georgianna's sake," the victim's father said in a text message Wednesday. "Between the devastation of what her father did, losing her therapeutic riding program ... she's suffered enough."
George's attorneys, Chris Rawls and Chris Townley, filed a motion for a new trial after his conviction in August. If rejected, Rawls planned to take the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals. He would argue that Thompson should not have convicted George on two grounds.
First, Rawls would say that George did not coerce the victim, a technical requirement for the act to be illegal. Second, he planned to argue that the victim had the mental capacity to make his own decision about the sexual relationship, which lasted for about 1-1/2 years until he told his parents in October 2016.
But before that happened, Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt told Rawls that the victim's family was willing to consent to a reduced sentence.
"To Arnt's credit, to win a trial, to get a strong sentence and say, 'The victims want this. Can we do a lighter sentence?'" Rawls said. "A lot of DAs wouldn't do this."
Arnt did not return a call seeking comment.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.