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Former Harlem High teacher arrested for sex with student

Posted: April 11, 2012 - 6:19pm  |  Updated: April 13, 2012 - 11:45am
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Mitchell Sivas  Hand Out
Hand Out
Mitchell Sivas

Twitter @JennaNMartin

A former Harlem High School ROTC teacher accused of having sex with a student was arrested Wednesday.

Mitchell Sivas, 57, was charged with sexual assault against a person in custody after his attorney brought him to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center at about 2:30 p.m., said Thomson Police Chief Joe Nelson.

Sivas resigned as Harlem’s Junior ROTC instructor on March 4 when confronted about his relationship with a 17-year-old senior at the school. When asked the previous day by Thomson police whether sexual activity between the two had occurred, he had denied the claim.

However, the student told authorities the two had engaged in sex on more than one occasion, Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris had previously said.

Following Sivas’ resignation, Thomson authorities initially said they would not pursue charges and deferred prosecution to Columbia County. But the alleged sex acts occured out of Columbia County's jurisdiction at Sivas' Thomson home.

Nelson asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for help with the case due to the “multi-jurisdictional” nature of the allegations against Sivas.

“The case was thoroughly investigated by the Thomson Police Department in connection with the GBI,” Nelson said Wednesday.

According to Georgia law, sex between a teacher and a student who attend the same school constitutes sexual assault, and the student’s consent cannot be used as a defense.

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.

Sivas was released from the jail Wednesday after posting a $10,000 bond, Nelson said.

“The case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office for further prosecution,” he said.

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