A 43-year-old school administrator in Georgia is accused of giving alcohol to children and raping at least one minor.
Dr. Rachelle Louise Terry, of Chatsworth, Georgia, turned herself over to authorities late last month and was charged with one count of statutory rape, two counts of child molestation, and 10 counts of furnishing alcohol to minors, authorities announced.
According to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the charges of furnishing alcohol to minors stem from an investigation into allegations that Terry gave the adult beverages to children “during a Halloween party earlier this year.”
A subsequent investigation into those allegations conducted by the Conasauga County District Attorney’s Office allegedly revealed that Terry had been having a “sexual relationship” with a student. The DA’s office then requested the assistance of GBI special agents to continue the investigation into Terry.
The investigation into Terry — the Murray County School District director of federal programs — and the alleged Halloween party began on Nov. 9, according to a report from the Dalton Daily Citizen.
Information about the age of the minor Terry is alleged to have raped and the ages of the students to whom she allegedly gave alcohol has not been released. The age of consent in Georgia is 16.
Murray County Sheriff Jimmy Davenport reportedly told the newspaper that he was contacted about the party by the county’s superintendent of schools, Steve Loughridge, after at least one parent filed a complaint about the holiday gathering. Due to a potential conflict of interest, the sheriff’s office reportedly requested that officials with the Conasauga District Attorney’s Office take control of the investigation.
Davenport reportedly said that the conflict of interest stemmed from the sheriff’s office providing SROs (school resource officers) to the school district.
“Sheriff Davenport asked me to take the lead on that so my investigator in Murray County conducted that investigation and took those charges,” Conasauga District Attorney Bert Poston reportedly said. “The GBI will not come in to investigate misdemeanor charges under those circumstances, so we agreed to take a look at it after the initial complaint came in.”
Poston reportedly refused to provide any additional details on the matter, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Derichia Lynch, a communications director for the school district, reportedly told the Daily Citizen that Terry was “placed on administrative leave with pay” from her position immediately upon returning from the Thanksgiving break. Lynch further explained that Terry, a 22-year veteran of the district who makes approximately $110,000 per year, is still under contract with the district and her pay cannot be withheld until a formal hearing on the matter takes place.
An unnamed spokesperson for the district reportedly provided a separate statement to Chattanooga Fox affiliate WTVC.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the criminal charges involving our employee,” the statement reportedly said. “These are extremely serious charges. The safety and well-being of our students are always a top priority for Murray County Schools.”
The district did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime seeking additional details.
The GBI urged any person with information relevant to the investigation to contact the bureau’s Calhoun Field Office at 716-624-1424.
[image via Murray County Sheriff’s Office]
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