Superintendent expels student, then serves on grand jury for…

Mar 26, 2013 by

The foreperson of the Meriwether County grand jury that recently indicted a 20-year-old man on rape and kidnapping charges knew the case well — too well, according to the defendant’s attorney.

Two years before indicting Tava Reese, foreperson Carol L. Lane — superintendent of the Meriwether County School System — signed off on a tribunal’s recommendation that the Greenville High senior be expelled for the same alleged offenses that could land him in prison for life.

But Lane told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she exerted no undue influence over either the indictment or the expulsion.

“I do not sit on the tribunal. I have nothing to do with the outcome,” Lane said.

As for the indictment, “there was never any discussion about the charges,” she said. “Not one person asked me, ‘Do you know this kid?’ or ‘Do you know this case?’ All I did was call for a vote. Had the other jurors wanted to discuss it, I would’ve recused myself.”

Though grand jurors are not made aware of the cases they’ll be hearing until they arrive in court, Pete Skandalakis, district attorney of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, was aware Reese’s case would be presented.

“He should have never allowed (Lane) to serve on the grand jury,” attorney Jackie Patterson said. “This is a sham indictment. I’ve never heard of anything like this in the 21 years I’ve been practicing law.”

He has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based on “the obvious conflict of interest.”

Skandalakis declined comment due to the pending motion.

Lane said the alleged conflict is merely a coincidence, noting that Meriwether County — located about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta — is a “small town.” The 2009 U.S. Census estimated the county’s population to be 22,783.

“I don’t like what’s being insinuated,” Lane said. “I would never take advantage of my position or try to obstruct justice in any way.”

Reese, 17 at the time, was expelled in October 2010 after allegedly pushing a female student into a closet and sexually assaulting her. Patterson told the AJC the sex was consensual.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 16, at which time Patterson’s motion to dismiss will be heard. Reese is charged with rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

via Superintendent expels student, then serves on grand jury for… | www.ajc.com.

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