Thomson police ask for GBI help in investigation of Harlem teacher accused of having sex with student

Mitchell Sivas

The Thomson Police Department is asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to enter the investigation of a teacher accused of having sex with a Harlem High School student at his Thomson home.

The day after a Thomson police captain said the agency would defer any prosecution to Columbia County, Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson said in a news release that the GBI is being asked to help because of the “multi-jurisdictional” nature of the allegations against former Harlem Junior ROTC teacher Mitchell Sivas.

Sivas, 57, resigned from the school when confronted about his relationship with the 17-year-old Harlem senior. On March 3, he denied any sexual activity between the two had occurred when asked by the Thomson police.

In at least three later statements, however, the student said the two had engaged in sex “on more than one occasion,” said Columbia County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

According to Georgia law, sex between a teacher and a student from the same school constitutes sexual assault, and the student’s consent cannot be used as a defense.

Authorities have no evidence to suggest any of the sexual activity took place at the school or in Columbia County, Morris said, which meant any charges would have to be brought in Thomson.

“We have been advised that an improper relationship has been committed possibly within the Thomson city limits, McDuffie County, Columbia County and/or Lincoln County,” says Nelson’s statement, which he hand-delivered to The McDuffie Mirror. “Since our jurisdiction is limited to the city of Thomson and the fact that this is obviously a multi-jurisdictional matter, we are asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist us.”

A person convicted under the law is subject to a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 25, and a fine of up to $100,000, or both, with harsher penalties for younger victims.

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