It wasn’t until a third middle school student complained that Price’s hug turned sexual that criminal charges were pursued.
On Thursday, Price, 45, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to two counts of sexual battery for what he did to the girls in Richmond County schools.
Judge J. Wade Padgett accepted the negotiated plea agreement and sentenced Price to serve two years in prison followed by eight years on probation. Citing the pre-trial intervention of Price’s first case in Aiken County, Padgett denied the defense’s request for First Offender status.
Price was arrested last fall after a student at C.T. Walker Magnet School reported he had fondled her on Sept. 4 at the middle school, said Assistant District Attorney Titus Nichols.
The investigation of that complaint led to the revival of a complaint in March 2012 by a Murphey Middle School student. She reported Price, a janitor at the school, had touched her in a sexual manner, Nichols said.
Investigators then learned that in April 2011 when Price worked at an Aiken County middle school, he was accused of fondling a child there. Price was fired. The criminal charge was disposed of with pre-trial intervention, Nichols said.
According to an earlier report in The Augusta Chronicle, Price failed to report the Aiken County charge when he applied for a job with the Richmond County Board of Education. As a special condition of probation, Price cannot work in any school system anywhere in the country, Padgett said. He cannot have any unsupervised contact with any girl under the age of 18, possess any image of a child in a state of undress, or possess any pornographic matter. He must submit to polygraph examinations, and he must seek his probation officer’s permission before moving or taking a job, Padgett ordered. Price must also undergo evaluation and any necessary treatment for sex offenders.
The law doesn’t require a person convicted of sexual battery to register as a sex offender unless it is a second conviction. Thursday’s conviction is Price’s first.