Harold William “Bill” George, of Monroe, was arrested Tuesday, June 28, 2016 following a grand jury indictment, according to Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman. He was booked into the Walton County Detention Center on two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes, one count of child molestation and six counts of sexual battery. George’s attorney, Eric Crawford of Crawford and Boyle LLC, said George was booked in to the jail just before 1 p.m. and bonded out by 4:30 p.m.
“The District Attorney’s office made me aware of the indictment and additional charges, as well as of the existence of a grand jury bench warrant. A grand jury bench warrant is required for any additional charges added on an indictment, and the accused must be booked on those charges for them to appear on his or her criminal history,” Crawford said. “Mr. George and I went to the jail today to get him turned in, booked, and bonded out on the additional charges. Judge Gene Benton set a $20,000.00 bond on the additional charges.”
George was initially arrested on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015 after the Walton County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of alleged molestation. Chapman said at the time the accusation was investigated and found it to be credible. George also was released later the same day on $20,000 bond on that occasion and computers were removed from the home for a forensic investigation.
George retired about four or five years ago after serving as an educator in the WCPS system for 16 years, many as a principal or assistant principal in local schools, including Loganville Middle School, Atha Road Elementary School and Monroe Area High School. Chapman said the arrest was not linked to any of George’s time at WCPS. George also served as a Loganville City Council member for four years during the early 1990’s. At the time of his arrest, George was a children and student ministries director at the Orchard Church in Loganville, but he resigned immediately.
Chapman said in addition to the original charge, the additional charges were filed against George following the grand jury investigation and investigators are looking into the possibility of more victims.
Crawford, however, is urging the public not to rush to judgment.
“Many times people assume guilt simply because warrants were issued by a judge or because an indictment is issued by a grand jury. However, the grand jury proceeding on a case like this probably lasted 5-10 minutes, consisting only of the lead detective talking about the investigation. The ‘victim’ usually does not testify, and the defendant and his attorney are not allowed to be present. That’s where we get the old phrase ‘The DA could indict a ham sandwich,’ because it’s such a one-sided process,” Crawford said. “When a trial jury gets a case like this, it generally looks substantially different, because both sides get to present their case, and many times the prosecuting witness / victim is found by a jury not to be believable based on their presentation, mannerisms, and contradictions in the multiple stories they’ve told.”
The community also is split with some coming out strongly in defense of George, saying they don’t believe he could have done this, and others saying they had expected something like this from him for many years.
“When all of the facts come out in this case, I think people will have a much different opinion of the case against Mr. George,” Crawford said. “Mr. George has a long, well documented history of helping all students in need, and despite his best efforts to help this teenager with numerous disciplinary problems, he is facing charges in this case. That is why I’m glad we have such a great system of justice, where everyone is presumed innocent until the government meets the monumental burden of proving beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty, and that a jury of Walton County citizens can hear this case and clear Mr. George’s good name.”
Crawford said other than knowing what the new charges are, he had not yet seen a copy of the indictment or any of the discovery (evidence) in the case.
“I’ve made arrangements with the DA to get all of that later this week, well before our arraignment date of July 13,” Crawford said.