31-year-old Kevin Harper was indicted by the Dougherty Grand Jury today for statutory rape. Prosecutors say he had sex with a 12-year-old sixth grader, who was truant.
Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said "She was supposed to be in school, but instead she was actually a victim. In many instances children wind up being victims or they wind up being perpetrators of crime, because they are not in school. So it all goes hand in hand."
The Student Attendance Protocol Committee, made up of all the county judges, law enforcement chiefs, D.A., school board members, and state Department of Health officials, agreed because of cases like this child's to crack down on truancy, before more kids become victims of crime.
Edwards said "We have some folks that we have tried the remedial effort, but we are going to go ahead and prosecute. And we are going to start doing that more frequently. We are going to be more aggressive."
Albany city ordinances require all kids ages 6 to 16 to attend school. So the D.A.'s office will use those laws to bring criminal charges against both students skipping school, and their parents.
Edwards said "Truancy leads to other problems. They lead to the crime in the streets that we have. They lead to things such as teen pregnancy. All of those kind of things flow hand in hand with truancy."
School officials have a list of habitual offenders that has been reported to the D.A. Office. And he is warning, even though it is late in the school year, law enforcement will be cracking down on their next skip day.