Alpharetta hands playground attack case to GBI


ALPHARETTA, Ga.,None - City officials said they have handed off the investigation of an attack on a child at an Alpharetta park. The 4-year-old’s mother said she is pressing charges after a man slammed her daughter to the ground to make way for his grandchild.

Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the man under investigation is Alpharetta City Council Member Cheryl Oakes’ husband, Paul Oakes. Channel 2’s Craig Lucie sat down with 4-year-old Hadassah Abdelmaseh, who explained what happened on Oct. 15 in her words.

“I got scared. That guy slammed me on the ground, and I get a bad boo-boo on my head and my eyes swell too. The guy just slammed me on the ground,” Abdelmaseh said with her mother nearby.

Her mother said the girl was swinging on her belly at Wills Park when the man declared it was his granddaughter’s turn. Abdelmaseh said the man lifted the swing by its chains and shook it until she fell off. Channel 2 obtained the Alpharetta police report that names Paul Oakes several times.

After calling police, Christole Abdelmaseh, Hadassah’s mother, said she thought it was odd the way the responding officers acted during their investigation at the Wills Park playground. Department procedures require dispatched officers to file a written report and interview witnesses, but no report was written.

“They were chit-chatting with him over in the corner against the fence like they were good buddies,” Abdelmaseh told Lucie.

She said she asked police to write a report, but they said nothing could be done. She filed her own report the next day.

Paul and Cheryl Oakes both work with child advocacy charities and sit on the Alpharetta Public Safety Foundation board. Christole Abdelmaseh said she spoke with Cheryl Oakes on the phone after she wrote her a letter about her daughter.

“She said, ‘Well if there’s absolutely anything that we can do to make you happy, you just let us know and we'll take care of it to get this closed,’” Abdelmaseh said.

Late Tuesday, Paul Oakes, his attorney and a hired private investigator met with Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik to address the allegations. T.J. Ward claimed the allegations and the ensuing media coverage were a “political smear campaign.”

“There are former political figures in Alpharetta who know they can damage a political figure in this matter and have been motivating this case that’s come up against Mr. Oakes, which is frivolous,” said Ward.

 When Petchenik questioned how Abdelmaseh, who lives in Roswell, would have a stake in Cheryl Oakes’ reelection, attorney Lee Whiteside said he believed they would find out how through an independent investigation.

 “I think there’s something really sinister behind this and we plan to find out,” he said. 

According to police notes, Oakes admitted to officers he removed the girl from the swing but said he placed her on the ground. But his lawyer told Petchenik he never touched the girl.

“This man is above reproach,” said Whiteside.  “His character is as intact today as it was that day, and we’re not gonna stand for this.”

Abdelmaseh brushed off the notion that her allegations were politically motivated. 

“Because I’m that bored with my three children, you have got to be kidding me,” she texted Petchenik.  “That is bad timing on his behalf.”

She denied that Oakes’ former opponent had ever contacted her regarding the case.

Police have not charged anyone.