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Thomson man gets 15 years in prison in child molestation case

Former Navy petty officer maintains his innocence

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THOMSON -- A former petty officer in the Navy was given 15 years in prison Monday for two felony counts of child molestation.

Geoffrey Peter Graham, of the 4000 block of Cedar Rock Road in Thomson, entered an Alford plea in a bench trial before Judge Roger W. Dunaway Jr.

An Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty while still maintaining innocence. The plea is entered not as an admission of the crime but because the defendant and the defense attorney believe the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

“This is a plea of guilty for all purposes under the law, and it is subject to the same punishment as a guilty plea,” Dunaway said.

On the first count, Graham was sentenced to 15 years in prison and five on probation. On the second, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 on probation. He will serve the sentences concurrently and be required to register as a sex offender.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Woody Davis said the crimes occurred on or around July 24, 2010. Two days later, the victims’ mother reported the crimes to McDuffie County sheriff’s Investigator Al Reeves.

Reeves began an investigation with assistance from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Doug Parker and Navy criminal investigators. Graham’s attorney Lucy Bell cited  his cooperation with law enforcement and the fact that he had no prior record.

“He’s sorry for the situation,” she said. “He’s lost everything.”

Graham, however, gave a statement maintaining his innocence.

“He wishes to say none of the evidence against him is true,” Davis said. “Mr. Graham has failed to accept full responsibility.”

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agrit 11/01/11 - 01:10 pm
Why would someone plead

Why would someone plead guilty if they were innocent? I would go down fighting tooth and nail before I would say I did something I didn't do. And why does our justice system allow for this? If you are guilty, you're guilty... if you're innocent, you're innocent.

InChristLove 11/01/11 - 01:20 pm
agrit, because our justice

agrit, because our justice system isn't perfect and in some cases the appearance of your guilt is strong and in order to serve a lighter sentence, some will agree to enter into a plea, instead of going to trial and possibly spending twice that amount of time in jail.

If you know you're going to spend time in jail either way, I guess you take the lesser of the two evils.

Ashleyn1 11/01/11 - 01:54 pm
I don't agree with that sort

I don't agree with that sort of a "plea" for anyone. They should have to go to trial, period! He molested a child for goodness sake!

CoastalDawg 11/01/11 - 02:39 pm
"Why would someone plead

"Why would someone plead guilty if they were innocent?" There are a number of reasons that people DO plead guilty sometimes when they are completely innocent; I can cite a couple of cases: one young man was accused of stalking because an ex-girlfriend didn't even want him to drive to a nearby place connected to HIS job; she moved from the state and wasn't in court yet his attorney convinced him to plead because she "still had time to bring the case against him back before the statute of limitations was over". The attorney took his fee and left the young man to fend for himself with the court. In another case, a young woman PLANNED to spend the night in a student's apartment, got money from HER account, and SHE bought condoms but because the "action" took place before they reached the apartment she cried rape and two promising young baseball players were so frightened that they would have to spend years in prison plead guilty so that probation was the result. She, whose reputation in the community already matched the plan she had, went on about life while they carry a record and I've never heard their names @ the professional baseball level. We don't know this story so we can't judge because any evidence didn't reach the light of the court. If he's GUILTY, consecutive sentences might be appropriate but if he isn't someone has done a terrible thing. I do agree with the poster that said that a trial should have made the determination; it is time for our legislature to remove plea bargain from any charges that involve crimes against children, anything involving the use of a weapon, or any crime in which bodily harm or death is the result. In a recent Chatham County case, a young man who was identified as THE trigger man in a murder was able to plead out instead of going to trial; he just "happened" the be the son of a detective - his cohorts, one of whom never left the car, went to jail for life + 5 years...

fftaz71 11/01/11 - 08:32 pm
Ashelyn....prove he molested

Ashelyn....prove he molested a child. He took the plea because his only rebuttal was to force the involved child to take the stand, and he was not willing to do that to the child. Im familiar enough with this story to know this to be true. He truly has lost EVERYTHING....there is so much more to what has happened to him that I shall not go into because its nobodys right to know. Just know that he entered this plea to protect the kid he is accused of molesting.

Vito45 11/01/11 - 11:36 pm
fftaz, if he didn't; maybe

fftaz, if he didn't; maybe someone will get a conscience and recant.

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