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Cross-Scott challenges charges

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November 27, 2007

Pearson - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP and other human rights groups all came to the Atkinson County Courthouse to support former Clinch County Commission Rhonda Cross Scott.

"When we heard Dr. Rhonda Cross-Scott had come to appeal what we say is injustice, we had to come. There's no other place we could be," says Same Mosteller, President of SCLC.

Still, a judge denied Cross-Scott's request to be removed from probation and have her record be expunged.

But she's not ready to go down without a fight. "We are trying to get this case thrown out because we feel a lot of it was illegal and a lot of it was politically motivated," says Rhonda's husband Lindsay.

Tuesday's hearing was part of a long legal battle Cross-Scott has faced since 2000.

That's when she uncovered an illegal prison fee while serving on the Clinch County Commission.  "The Sheriff of Clinch County was charging inmates room and board.  These people were locked up in jail and paying rent!" says Reverend Fer-Rell Malone, President of the South Georgia chapter of the SCLC.

Soon after, she was accused of listing her address in Clinch County during her 2000 bid for county commissioner, when she actually lived in Valdosta.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of false registration, was given 15 years probation, a 90 day jail sentence and was banned from the county. 

A punishment that they say is to harsh.  "The penalty for this case was extreme and out of line," Lindsay Scott says.

Now, many officials who brought the charges against her have been federally indicted or are facing charges themselves.  "When crooked folks come up with a decision, the decision is going to be crooked," Malone adds.

Although the verdict was not what they were looking for, these groups say they won't give up and Cross-Scott will soon be free of all charges.

Cross-Scott's supporters say they will challenge the decision made in the courtroom and ask the case be reviewed by a higher court.