Update: George to appeal his conviction on child molestation charges

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Bill George. Photo courtesy of Walton County Sheriff’s Office

Bill George will appeal his conviction last week on child molestation charges, according to his attorney, Eric Crawford, who says he believes serious legal errors were made during George’s trial last week.

George was convicted on Thursday, June 16, 2018 on all the charges against him, the charges combined into six for sentencing and the sentences to run concurrently. As a result, George was sentenced on June 20 to serve 20 years in a state prison followed by 10 years probation. He was also prohibited from the Alcovy District during the term of his probation and will not be allowed to be in the company of any children under the age of 18.

George was initially arrested on Sept. 18, 2015 on charges of alleged sexual molestation. He immediately bonded out on $20,000. He was again arrested on June 16 of 2016 following a grand jury indictment and was again released on $20,000 bond. Following his conviction last week, George was immediately taken back into custody. The charges he was convicted of include two counts of child molestation, two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and 6 counts of sexual battery which were combined into two for sentencing. There were four witnesses against George during the trial, including the victim from whom the original charges stemmed as well as a former family member who was a teenager at the time of the incidents he recounted.

Alcovy Circuit Court Judge Eugene Benton announced George’s sentence Thursday, effectively lifting a gag order that had been placed on all parties to the case since the grand jury indictment in 2016. Crawford contends that grounds for appeal were established during the trial.

“We believe Judge Benton made at least three serious legal errors during the case,” Crawford said. “First, by denying pretrial motions regarding the State’s illegal seizures outside the scope of the search warrant, then allowing that evidence to be used at trial. Second, allowing the illegally recorded video made by the mom to be shown to the jury; the state just finished prosecuting someone for making such a video in Fulton in the Waffle House case. Finally, and perhaps most egregious, is the State’s blatant and repeated violation of the Rape Shield Statute. The State ignored the statute and the procedures put in place by the legislature to protect victims, and blatantly violated the law in order to admit testimony of prior molestation of their primary witness for sympathy. However, when the defense tried to admit other sexual history to explain elements of the case, the state vigorously objected.”

Crawford said the law does not allow the state to use the Rape Shield Statute as both a shield and a sword.

“We don’t think the Court of Appeals will look favorably on their tactics and blatant violations of a law that is easy to understand and easier to follow,” Crawford said.

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