Paulding County DA indicted on 4 felony charges stemming from sexual harassment investigation

Taxpayers on hook for $300,000 to settle sexual harassment case against metro DA

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday a grand jury has indicted a local district attorney in connection to a sexual harassment lawsuit and Channel 2 investigation from 2019.

Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan was indicted on one count of felony bribery, one count of false swearing and two counts of violation of oath by a public officer.

The indictment comes after a nearly 18-month investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

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If he is convicted, these are the jail times and/or fines that Donovan could face:

  • Bribery: 1-20 years, and/or a fine up to $5,000
  • Violation of Oath of Office: 1-5 years, and/or a fine up to $100,000
  • False Swearing: 1-5 years, and/or a fine up to $1,000

Donovan has been in office since he was elected to the position in 2010.

According to the indictment, Donovan submitted an order dismissing criminal charges against a prosecutor’s client in hopes that the prosecutor would in turn dismiss charges against an employee in Donovan’s office.

The indictment also says Donovan “made false statements in a sworn affidavit when he denied ever having said that he wanted to have sex with this same employee of his office and denied describing fantasies regarding his desire to be physical with this employee.”

Channel 2 Action News first reported on this story in 2019 when senior staff member Jamie White filed the lawsuit that claimed Donovan repeatedly harassed her and retaliated against her when she reported it.

According to our 2019 investigation, White 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.”

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 dismissal, according to the GBI, is what led to the bribery charge Donovan is now facing.

The state-hired lawyer representing Donovan said in 2019 that they would vigorously defend the allegations. But early last year, Channel 2 learned they planned to settle the lawsuit, leaving taxpayers to cover nearly all of $300,000 payoff.

Investigation finds local DA gave staffer cash, gifts and sexual innuendo