According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a middle school teacher from DeKalb County is accused of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old female student in his classroom as well as in her home.
Almarcus Thomas was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated child molestation and three counts of statutory rape. According to police records, a search of Thomas’s house led investigators to images of the teen on a laptop computer. Thomas is also facing one count of sexual exploitation of children and an additional count of sexual assault.
At Thomas’s first appearance before a Magistrate Judge, he was unable to obtain a bond – not for allegedly having sexual intercourse with the student – but because he was accused of engaging in oral sex with her. This case is a perfect example of the disproportionate treatment these offenses receive under Georgia law.
When a criminal defendant in Georgia is first arrested, he or she appears before a Magistrate judge to determine if bond can be set. In Georgia, Magistrate judges are unable to set bond for certain serious criminal offenses including murder, rape, aggravated child molestation and several others. In this case, the four counts of statutory rape stem from consensual intercourse with the minor while the three counts of aggravated child molestation are based on allegations that Thomas engaged in consensual oral sex with her.
Ironically, the statutory rape charges – accusations of actual intercourse – are bondable in Magistrate court, but oral sex, even if consensual, constitutes the offense of aggravated child molestation and is not bondable by a Magistrate. In order for a criminal defendant in Georgia to receive a bond for this offense, he has to file a motion in Superior Court. It will often take up to several weeks before a Superior Court judge will hold a bond hearing. The fact that Georgia law considers an act of oral sex to be an “aggravated” offense reflects dated stereotypes of sexual practices and unnecessarily detains criminal defendants such as Thomas in jail for a much longer period of time than is necessary.
Criminal defense attorneys in Georgia have been voicing concerns over this uneven treatment of sexual offenses for years and it is unclear why the legislature has been unwilling to correct the problem. The dilemma for legislators is that it is not politically popular to recommend changes to sex offense statutes that create the appearance they are being “soft” on crime. It may be that the Georgia Supreme Court will need to step in and find these statutes unconstitutional in order to put an end to the disproportionate treatment of oral sex-related offenses.
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