The day after a Thomson Police Department captain said the agency would defer any prosecution to Columbia County, the chief is asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to enter the investigation of a teacher accused of having sex with a Harlem High School student at his Thomson home.
The GBI is being asked to help because of the “multi-jurisdictional” nature of the allegations against former Harlem Junior ROTC teacher Mitchell Sivas, Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson said in a news release.
Sivas, 57, who resigned from the school when confronted about his relationship with the 17-year-old Harlem High senior, denied when asked at his home March 3 by Thomson police whether sexual activity between the two had occurred.
In at least three later statements, however, the student said the two had engaged in sex “on more than one occasion,” said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
According to Georgia law, sex between a teacher and a student who attends the same school constitutes sexual assault, and the student’s consent cannot be used as a defense.
Authorities have no evidence to suggest any of the sexual activity took place at the school or in Columbia County, Morris said. Any charges would have to be brought where the activity took place, he said.
“We have been advised that an improper relationship has been committed possibly within the Thomson city limits, McDuffie County, Columbia County and/or Lincoln County,” says Nelson’s statement, which he hand-delivered to The McDuffie Mirror. “Since our jurisdiction is limited to the city of Thomson and the fact that this is obviously a multi-jurisdictional matter, we are asking the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist us.”
A person convicted under the law is subject to a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 25, and a fine of up to $100,000, or both, with harsher penalties for younger victims.