Former Harlem High School Junior ROTC teacher arrested on charge of sex with student, 17

Mitchell Sivas

A former Harlem High School Junior ROTC teacher accused of having sex with a student was arrested Wednesday.

Mitchell Sivas, 57, was charged with sexual assault against a person in custody after his attorney brought him to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center about 2:30 p.m., Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson said.

Sivas resigned as Harlem’s Junior ROTC instructor on March 4 when confronted about his relationship with a 17-year-old senior at the school. When asked the previous day by Thomson police whether sexual activity between the two had occurred, he denied it.

The student gave at least three statements that said the two had engaged in sex on more than one occasion, Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris has said.

After Sivas’ resignation, Thomson authorities initially said they would not pursue charges and deferred prosecution to Columbia County.

Nelson soon asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for help with the investigation because of the “multijurisdictional” nature of the allegations against Sivas.

The sexual activity reportedly occurred at Sivas’ house in Thomson.

“The case was thoroughly investigated by the Thomson Police Department in connection with the GBI,” Nelson said Wednesday.

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

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

Sivas was released from the jail Wednesday after posting $10,000 bond, Nelson said.

“The case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office for further prosecution,” he said.

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