A former sheriff in Georgia has entered a guilty plea in response to allegations of groping Judge Glenda Hatchett. The plea comes after Hatchett reported that on January 18, 2022, Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody inappropriately touched her at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Bar during the Georgia Sheriffs Association’s winter meeting. An arrest warrant detailing the incident had been previously obtained by CBS News.
Hatchett had attended the conference as a guest of former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, who brought her story to light in May 2022 during an interview with WSB-TV. According to Brown, the incident occurred as he introduced Hatchett to Coody.
“As I turned to my left to focus back on the two of them, I saw his hand go down on her left breast,” Brown recounted to the outlet. “I grabbed his arm, threw it off of her chest, and basically said, ‘What are you [expletive] think you’re doing?’ and that’s basically where it ended.”
In accordance with reports by the Associated Press, Coody pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery and received a sentence of one year of probation, a $500 fine, and 400 hours of community service. Additionally, Coody was ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation and complete an alcohol and drug course, as shared by his attorney, Joel Pugh, with 13WMAZ. CBS News has reached out to Pugh’s office for comment.
In a statement provided to 13WMAZ, Coody acknowledged his guilty plea and announced his resignation as the sheriff of Bleckley County, a position he had held since 2017, according to the Associated Press.
“This morning I plead Guilty to a misdemeanor charge in Cobb County State Court. To be clear, I had no intent to touch Ms. Hatchett inappropriately. Unfortunately, I acted in a careless manner, and for that, I have taken full responsibility for my actions,” Coody’s statement read in part. “Additionally, I have resigned as the Sheriff of Bleckley County effective 8:00 a.m. August 21, 2023, and as such thereby forfeited the pension that is typically associated with that office.”
Reflecting on his tenure in law enforcement as one of “privilege and honor,” Coody expressed gratitude to his community for the opportunity to serve as sheriff.
“I would like to express that it has been an honor to serve the citizens of Bleckley County and I appreciate the support I have always received and continue to receive from them along with the entire staff of the Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office,” he added. “I would like to apologize to the citizens of Bleckley County for the entirety of this unfortunate incident.”
Hatchett also addressed the incident during a news conference shared by FOX 5 on Monday, emphasizing that she “never expected” to be so profoundly affected.
“I had to file charges. There had to be accountability because the message needs to be clear that you cannot do this,” she asserted. “How dare you do this? And if he would do this to me after being introduced to him as Judge Hatchett, what else is happening?”
In closing, the article provides contact information for the National Sexual Assault Hotline, urging those who have been sexually assaulted or know someone who has to seek help and support.