"We fully recognize that the 14-year-old child involved is a victim. Our office does not arrest individuals and was not consulted about the case initially. From the time we first received this file, we expected no active prosecution against her and our only goal has been to obtain counseling, treatment, care, and protection, which she is now receiving. On December 1, 2014, we, along with the child and her lawyer requested, and the Juvenile Court Judge agreed and signed an order to hold her case in abeyance. That order means that her case is automatically dismissed upon successful completion of treatment, counseling, and care. These services will hopefully rehabilitate her so that she can get the help she needs.
We have reviewed the matter and met with the law enforcement officers from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Eatonton Police Department who conducted the investigation. The State is prosecuting the adult defendants for statutory rape and related charges when appropriate. The cases against the adult offenders are expected to be presented to the next Grand Jury in Putnam County scheduled for March, 2015 for indictment. We hope these prosecutions will protect her and other youth of our communities in the future.
Yesterday, I spoke to the Attorney General and his specialist in Human Trafficking, who will be helping us with this prosecution. They applauded our efforts and told me, “you’re doing all you can.” We look forward to working with them to bring justice to this case."
While this is "great news" for this specific case, it has made me aware of the greater issues of the possibility of this happening in other parts of Georgia due to gaps in victim protections in the law, as well as media presentation of human trafficking cases. I will continue to educate and advocate in those areas so that Georgia can continue to improve its treatment of victims of child sexual exploitation. Thank you all so much for your support in this issue, and good luck to those of you facing similar issues in your own states.