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Posted: April 5, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Gresham indicted by grand jury

Charges stem from lying in 2008 bid for Board of Education about past sodomy conviction

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Horace Don Gresham

 A Newton County grand jury indicted Don Gresham for lying about his past as a convicted sex offender in an unsuccessful bid for the District 2 seat on the Newton County Board of Education.

Gresham was charged with one felony count of false swearing and one felony count of false statement in filing a notice of candidacy in the grand jury indictment, according to Newton County District Attorney Ken Wynne.

When Gresham filed qualifying paperwork to run for a seat on the BOE last year he indicated he did not have a previous felony conviction of "moral turpitude." In fact, Gresham had been convicted of felony sodomy in DeKalb County in 1988 and served just under 10 months of a one-year sentence at Rivers State Prison before being released on May 14, 1989. In addition to one year in prison, Gresham was also ordered to serve 11 years on probation, making him ineligible to seek office until 2010.

Gresham chose to continue to seek office, despite a flurry of controversy after his past convictions came to light. He withdrew his candidacy by letter mere moments before a special hearing in front of the Board of Elections to decide his eligibility.

Gresham stated in his letter, "It is because this state we live in does not keep probation records after the probation is completed and the fact the District 2 school board only pays $600 per month and the fact that it will cost me several thousand dollars to go to federal court to force the sate of Georgia to show the month and the fee that I paid on my last visit with a probation officer, I am withdrawing my bid to run for District 2 school board seat in the 2008 election."

But the retired postal worker claimed he had used his run in 2008 as a test run to see what voters in District 2 would think of someone with his past holding office.

"That is what this test that I have run, to see what the voter's [sic] of my district think," stated Gresham. "I believe over 99.9 percent of them believe in forgiveness, therefore I will run for the District 2 Board of Commissioner's seat when it comes up for a vote in two years."

State Senator John Douglas (R-Social Circle), addressed the possibility that Gresham could run for the seat again in 2010 by introducing a bill in the state Legislature this year that prohibits sex offenders from running for election to local boards of education. Thus far the bill has passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

In a letter to the editor that was published in the May 18, 2008 of the News, Gresham said, "You need to learn something about the law. SODOMY is where two parties that are above 14 years old; now the law says 16 years old. So that is not a ‘convicted child abuser.’ The sodomy law was overturned on November 23, 1998."

The Georgia Supreme Court did overturn an anti-sodomy law on Nov. 23, 1998, because it "violates the state Constitution's protection of the right to privacy." But this applies only to consenting adults. Two adults may consent to engage in these actions, but a minor does not have the ability to give consent to any sexual encounter with an adult.

According to Wynne, the case against Gresham was initiated with the filing of a complaint with the district attorney’s office and was subsequently investigated by the Secretary of State’s office, the results of which were turned over to the DA’s office. Gresham will be notified of the charges against him.

"He’ll be given the opportunity to turn himself in and post bond," said Wynne

An arraignment date will be set by the Clerk of Court’s office.

Attempts to contact Gresham for comment on this article were unsuccessful as of press time. No court date has been set yet.

Continue to check CovNews.com for updates on this and more stories.

 

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