Child advocates sexual abuse case incomplete - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Child advocates sexual abuse case incomplete

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November 24, 2004

Albany- Pleading guilty to sex with a 17-year old student, Carla Murray lost her teacher's certification and will be a registered sex offender.

But child advocates say there are more victims who were never interviewed by police, so the investigation is incomplete.

"And we are calling upon the district attorney to do a thorough investigation and make sure any other victims that are out there of this Carla Murray are looked into and looked after because they deserve the same kind of protection as anybody else," said Rita Ellis, associate executive editor of Open Arms.

Executive Director Beth McKenzie and Ellis claim the bigger problem is school board attorney Tommy Coleman. They say he didn't follow protocol by calling DFACS when the situation with Murray was discovered and he got involved in the investigation.

"Because of that he has contaminated the entire criminal case," Ellis said.

They say this isn't the first time.

"We suspect and we know from past history that there have been cases in Dougherty County School System where teachers are allowed to resign who have been alleged sexual abusers of students in schools."

We were not able to get in touch with school board attorney Tommy Coleman this evening. But district attorney Ken Hodges says a GBI investigation soon to be released shows the school system didn't do anything wrong. He also says the plea was agreed to because the relationship between the student and Murray was consensual and in the criminal justice system a 17-year-old is an adult.

"What kind of message are we sending. That it's ok. That just because he's 17 that it's ok to have sex with your teacher. It's not."

Now they are speaking out about a problem they say they've been fighting since 2000.

"If they follow protocol, they're protecting themselves, they're protecting the children in the schools," Ellis said.

Protecting children from sexual predators who rarely have only one victim.

posted at 10:16 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com