PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirms it has opened an investigation into a local district attorney accused of sexually harassing a senior member of his staff.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spent the last two weeks collecting all the pieces for this story.
Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan's state-appointed lawyer told Diamant they both intend to vigorously defend the allegations.
But an investigative report says there is clear and credible evidence to back up the accuser’s claims.
The report was written by an attorney Paulding County paid nearly $18,000 in taxpayer money to investigate a sexual harassment complaint against Donovan.
Local employment lawyer Jenn Coalson, who is not involved in the case, walked Diamant through a stack of documents surrounding the complaint, which Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution got through an open records requests.
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“It’s troubling,” Coalson said about the allegations. “The cumulative effect of this is really remarkable.”
In late April, Jamie White, a longtime senior staffer in Donovan’s office, emailed a complaint to county leaders “in an effort to stop the unlawful sexual harassment and its impact on my work and well-being.”
Donovan fired back just days later with a 100-plus page denial and a sworn affidavit in which Donovan said, “I am very, very reluctant to characterize it as sexual harassment because. I have never said I wanted to have sex with her, I have never tried to have sex with her.”
But according to the investigative report, in a conversation recorded by White, Donovan said “I don’t mind telling you everything still works, and I am not out of practice. I can’t think of any experience I would relish or cherish more than to make love to you.”
“That’s going to be a problem for him moving forward, for sure,” Coalson said.
The report also described “a somewhat continuous course of conduct” during which Donovan “repeatedly expressed his love” the report includes pictures of letters, cards, notes and text messages Donovan sent White noting, “he did much of this after complainant told him in writing to stop.”
Still, the report detailed how Donovan gave White “substantial gifts” including money and a pricey gold bracelet, plus “other favors of value” like the “use of an official vehicle and helping arrange for the dismissal of a shoplifting charge against her.”
“That investigative report makes it really difficult for Mr. Donovan to deny a lot of this,” Coalson said.
Donovan's lawyer says they'll vigorously defend the claims. White's lawyer told Diamant neither she nor her client had any comment.
The GBI told Diamant it will not give him any details about its investigation into all this.
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