ATLANTA — A Georgia sheriff is facing a sexual battery charge; accused of groping a prominent Atlanta judge at a convention in January. Now a witness in law enforcement is shedding light on the incident.
Former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said he saw what happened and intervened to remove the judge from the situation.
Brown said Judge Glenda Hatchett wants her story told, and that's why we are identifying her in this story.
In early 2022, Brown invited Hatchett to a sheriffs' convention at Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. Later in the day, Brown said he, the judge, and two other women were approached by three sheriffs, including Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody.
"She (Hatchett) asked him where was he from-- he indicated what county he was from. And she was not familiar with that particular county and nor was I," Brown explained, "So he began to describe geographically where that county was located in the state of Georgia by stating that it's located in the heart of Georgia. He wanted to emphasize the heart of Georgia. And he did that by placing his left hand on her left breasts. And he did it three times."
Brown said he only saw Coody touch the judge's chest once.
"When I turned to the left, he was stating the heart of Georgia for the third time. I saw his hand go down on her left breast and I reached over, grabbed his hand, took it off of her and basically said, ‘What are you doing and get your hands off of her.'"
Brown said he lead a shocked Hatchett away to the lobby of the hotel.
"I remember her words were she was very surprised. She's thinking, 'he’s a sheriff, what do I do?'"
Coody is now formally facing a sexual battery charge.
In a statement from February when a warrant was issued, the Bleckley Sheriff's Office said Coody "takes these charges very seriously and has retained legal counsel to guide him through this process" and will "comply with all legal obligations placed upon him." It added that he "looks forward to personally expressing his regrets for any offense."
Brown said he talked to Coody the day after the alleged incident, angry at what happened. Brown didn't go into detail about the conversation, only telling 11Alive Coody "received" what Brown had to say.
"He is the chief law enforcement officer of his county. The head of law enforcement agency sets the tone for the culture of our agency. Law enforcement officers do not put up with law enforcement officers who do the wrong thing," Brown said.
The former sheriff added he decided to share his side of what happened because he believes no one is above the law. As for Judge Hatchett, Brown said she wants others to feel safe coming forward if they find themselves in the same situation
"I think she went through the three stages, she was initially shocked. Then it took about two days, she was hurt. Safe to say there's some crying. Then she got into the angry stage," he said. "This procedure we're going through now could have been sealed. But Judge Hatchett chose not to seal it because she now got her strength and she's ready to do what needs to be played at the next step of the justice system in this regard. She's wanting to use this as an example for other young women that is okay to say something."