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Magistrate judge resigns amidst allegations of inappropriate conduct

Posted: May 4, 2014 - 12:03am

A Columbia County magistrate judge resigned his office Thursday, amidst allegations that he had behaved inappropriately toward women he had encountered as a guardian ad litem, officials said.

Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Jason Troiano said Doug Nelson, who had been a magistrate judge since 2007, submitted his resignation at 3 p.m. at the Evans courthouse. It was effective immediately, Troiano said.

Nelson’s resignation came after he was notified Thursday that Troiano had taken him off of the Magistrate court calendar and intended to refer allegations against him to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission.

“While it is inappropriate to comment on the matter, I take the allegations very seriously,” Troiano said in a statement. “The integrity of Columbia County Magistrate Court and the judicial process are of utmost concern.”

Nelson has been accused by at least two women of inappropriate remarks and touching, while he was serving as a court appointed guardian ad litem in their divorce cases, court officials said.

Tina Wright, of Grovetown, filed a report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office on April 23, accusing Nelson of grabbing her when they met to discuss her custody case 2011. Wright told police she and Nelson met at a McDonald’s restaurant on Columbia Road on May 20, 2011. She said at the end of their meeting Nelson grabbed her into a close hug and stroked her back, making her uncomfortable, according to the report.

“He pulled me, in public, to him, chest to chest,” Wright said Thursday. “Then he started stroking my back. I thought, ‘Okay, this isn’t right.’”

Wright said that she had been cautioned by her attorney not to make an official report against Nelson while her divorce case was still being litigated. She said in the end Nelson did not fairly represent her case to the presiding judge and did what appeared to be very little work as a guardian for the court.

“He did not do his guardian ad litem duties,” she said. “His whole M.O. seems to be to go after the women involved in the cases.”

Columbia County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said no criminal investigation was underway in Wright’s case because the statute of limitations had expired.

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