After April 29, 2013 Mr. Joseph Amos Young worked as a “In-School Suspension Clerk” for the Carroll County Schools and was placed in Bowdon High School to supervise the In-School Suspension program. While employed at the High School, the Defendant met and began communicating outside of class with a teenaged female student.
On August 5, 2013 the Defendant began employment as a certified teacher at Bowdon Middle School. At the end of August 2015, an Assistant Superintendent with the Carroll County Board of Education notified the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office of possible inappropriate sexual contact between Mr. Young and the young lady. The Sheriff’s office completed a thorough and professional investigation and delivered a case file to the District Attorney’s Office. After presenting the case to the grand jury in February 2016, Mr. Young was indicted for the offense of Sexual Assault as described in section 16-6-5.1 of the Official Code of Georgia. This law forbids sexual conduct between a student and any teacher, principal, assistant principal and other administrator at the same school.
In November 2016, after Mr. Young’s indictment, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an opinion comprehensively interpreting the law under which Mr. Young was facing prosecution. In its opinion, the Justices held that the legislature’s descriptions of “teacher, principal, assistant principal, and other administrator” excluded other employees such as paraprofessionals, assistant teachers, and other educators. The law also applied only to teachers employed at the same school where the student was enrolled. Other school employees such as coaches, paraprofessionals, volunteers, secretaries, bus drivers, and employees are not explicitly named in the law.
Mr. Young’s alleged conduct with the young woman occurred between the time he was a working as a “Clerk” at Bowdon High School and the time he was a certified teacher at Bowdon Middle School, a different school.
Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, the District Attorney’s Office is ethically obligated to dismiss the case against Mr. Young. The State is forced to take this action solely on his employment status and not his behavior. Only the legislature can change the law to prohibit other school employees from having sexual contact with students.