ATHENS, Ga. - Former state Sen. Doug Haines turned himself in to the Clarke County Jail on a simple assault charge Tuesday after a Clarke County Magistrate Court judge found probable cause that he threatened and frightened a 16-year-old girl for speeding through his Five Points neighborhood.
The girl, Athens Academy junior Catherine Barton, told Athens-Clarke County police in August that a man she didn't know attacked her at the intersection of Cloverhurst Avenue and Springdale Street, beating on the door of her car, screaming profanity and threatening to kill her if she ever returned to the neighborhood.
A few days later, her mother showed Catherine a recent picture of Mr. Haines - one printed from the Web site of his failed run for U.S. Congress - and the girl recognized him as the man who attacked her.
Mr. Haines painted a different picture of the encounter, describing how he was backing out of his driveway when Catherine sped by in a sport-utility vehicle. He followed the SUV as it ran two stop signs, Mr. Haines said, and pulled up beside the teen at the Cloverhurst/Springdale intersection.
"I've got a little baby who is of the age she runs into the street," Mr. Haines said. "I wanted to tell (Barton) to slow down. At that point, I was upset."
Judge Patricia Barron interrupted Mr. Haines' testimony. "Tell me what gave you the right to stop her and give her these instructions," Judge Barron said.
"I was being protective of my baby," Mr. Haines said. "I lost my temper and I am sorry, but I didn't do what is alleged."
In her decision, the judge said an assault was probable whether Mr. Haines used profanity or not.
"You had absolutely no right to approach her vehicle and say anything to her," Judge Barron said.