Columbia County judge resigns over misconduct allegations

A Columbia County magistrate judge resigned his office Thursday amid allegations that he had behaved inappropriately toward women he had encountered as a guardian ad litem, officials said.

 

Doug Nelson, who had been a magistrate judge since 2007, submitted his resignation at the Evans courthouse, said Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Jason Troiano. It was effective immediately, Troiano said.

Nelson had been notified earlier Thursday that Troiano had taken him off the court calendar and intended to refer him to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Com­mission.

“While it is inappropriate to comment on the matter, I take the allegations very seriously,” Troiano said in a statement. “The integrity of Columbia County Magistrate Court and the judicial process are of utmost concern.”

At least two women have accused Nelson of inappropriate remarks and touching while serving as a court-appointed guardian ad litem
in their divorce cases, court officials said.

Tina Wright, of Grovetown, filed a report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office on April 23 accusing Nelson of grabbing her when they met to discuss her custody case in May 2011. Wright told police she and Nelson met at McDonald’s on Columbia Road, and at the end of the meeting he grabbed her into a close hug and stroked her back, making her uncomfortable, according to the report.

“He pulled me, in public, to him, chest to chest,” Wright said Thursday. “Then he started stroking my back. I thought, ‘OK, this isn’t right.’”

Wright said she had been cautioned by her attorney not to make an official report while her divorce was being litigated. She said in the end Nelson did not fairly represent her case to the presiding judge and did what appeared to be very little work.

Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said no criminal investigation was underway in Wright’s case be­cause the statute of limitations had expired.

 

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