Wednesday, June 29, 2005
DA testifies for child molester on probation
By LEE WILLIAMS
Shocked and stunned.
These are the words an official from the South Georgia Judicial Circuit used to describe his reaction when he learned a man elected to prosecute criminals had come to help free one. That man was Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard.
Ballard served as a character witness for an offender during a probation revocation hearing on June 14.
But this wasnt just any offender, said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It was a convicted child molester, 40-year-old Jeffery David Allen of Old Greenville Road, Fayetteville.
We were a bit shocked and thrown off by it, the official from District Attorney Joe Mulhollands office said.
Ballard does not dispute that he appeared in a Bainbridge, Ga. courtroom to help what he called a personal friend.
I went to speak on behalf of someone who I believe to be a good person, Ballard said.
Allen pleaded guilty in May 1990 to sexually molesting five female students and trying to kiss two others, all under the age of 14, according to the Decatur County, Ga., Clerks Office. Allen was a middle school teacher when the assaults occurred.
Allen received 40 years probation and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for the crimes as part of a negotiated plea deal.
A judge also banned Allen from the county during his probation and ordered him not to teach girls under 17, clerk officials said.
Allen had his probation supervision transferred to Fayette County, and had violated the terms of his probation at least one time prior in 2003, Decatur County, Ga., jail officials said.
Allen was ordered to appear before a judge once again this month after he allegedly violated the terms of his probation. The alleged incident involved Allen and an officer of the Fayetteville Police Department as Allen was coming home from a strip club on March 11.
According to Fayetteville police, a taxi driver picked up Allen and his friend, identified as 39-year-old Beverly Jenkins, at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Forest Park and drove them to McBride Road.
Allen told the cab driver he did not have any money to pay the fare once they arrived at the location, police said. The cab driver drove Allen to an automatic teller machine to withdraw the cash, but he could not because there was insufficient funds in the bank account, police said. The cab driver then called the police.
Allen, who appeared to be visibly intoxicated, grew upset with the cab driver when officers arrived, police said. Allen initially gave a false name to police. Allen later shouted obscenities and tried to fight with the police, forcing them to spray pepper spray in his eyes to get him to comply, police said.
Due to Allens strength and level of resistance, it took all three officers on scene to attempt to subdue him, FPD Spokeswoman Lt. Beverly Trainor said.
Allen was charged with obstruction, disorderly conduct and giving a false name to police. He was taken to the Fayette County Jail and later transported to the Decatur County, Ga., Jail to attend the probation revocation hearing.
Ballard acknowledged some officers or prosecutors might question or feel let down by his decision, but he indicated he did not attend the hearing to offend anyone. He was only there to help a fellow Christian, Ballard said. He spoke by cellphone June 22 while driving to Inman United Methodist Church.
Ballard said he leads a prayer group at the church and Allen is an active member of his prayer group.
For the most part, he was fighting some battles and he was winning and he had a relapse, said Ballard, explaining Allens battles with alcohol. He was with a lady and he was drinking. He shouldnt have been drinking.
Ballard said Allen is the family member of a friend and he has known Allen for about five years. He indicated he knows Allen erred when he went out that night, but did not believe his probation should be revoked.
The decision on Allens probation revocation is pending. If his probation is revoked, Allen could spend the next 25 years in prison.
Hes made great progress, Ballard said.
Ballard acknowledges that Allen is a convicted child molester, but he questions the strength of the evidence introduced during Allens court proceeding.
The molestation charges were 18 years ago, the former defense attorney said. I dont know what happened, but he was given 40 years probation, so that says a little bit about the evidence and the severity of the charges that he was not put in prison and he was given probation.
Some doubt child molesters or pedophiles can be rehabilitated, but Ballard does not share this view. I think its stereotypical, he said. Each case is individual.
Ballard said although he went to speak as a character witness for Allen, he doesnt want people to make inaccurate assumptions about his stance on child molestation.
Its not a statement that I am in favor of child molestation, he said. I think it would be short-sighted of someone to say that just because I spoke on behalf of a friend that I wouldnt prosecute child molestation cases aggressively when they come up.
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.