North GA man fights to clear his name - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

North GA man fights to clear his name

Story by Eyewitness News Reporter Callie Starnes

Fourteen years ago James Moss was charged, indicted, and then acquitted of child molestation and cruelty charges.

Investigators accused Moss of spanking his then two-year-old niece with a belt and molesting her.

A jury found Moss not guilty, and years later the girl told family members Moss did not hurt her. But despite the verdict the father of three is not free of the allegations.

"It was a horrifying experience that I thought was over, but its been going on for 14 years now," says Moss.

On May 27, 1997 a jury found Moss not guilty, a moment he will never forget. "It went from the worst night of my life to the best time."

But the last 14 years have not been easy.

Since graduating with a bachelor's degree in education, his certificate to teach has been denied twice by the State of Georgia.

"Can't get a job teaching or anything else, because every time they get my background check and see the charges, even though they say not guilty; I'm re-tried all over again," says Moss.

Four years ago the Dalton Police Department agreed to delete Moss' arrest reports but his criminal record is another story.

We visited District Attorney Kermit McManus' office Wednesday. He says Georgia law doesn't allow his office to wipe Moss' record clean.

WRCB Legal Analyst McCracken Poston says once a defendant is indicted in Georgia, charges stick and it is almost impossible to expunge their records no matter what happened.

"This is a tough state to practice criminal law in. It's a very tough state to be a defendant," says Poston.

It's a lesson James Moss has learned the hard way. Without a job and with no income, Moss and his family were evicted from their home Wednesday morning.

Moss says he wants to keep fighting, but says he doesn't have the money to pay an attorney.

For now he's moving in with his mother hoping to make ends meet.

"Three bedroom trailer and we are moving in on her with a disability, but we just don't have a choice", says Moss.

Moss does have the option to file a suit against the state in Superior Court, otherwise the only way his record will be wiped clean is if legislators change the law.

We plan to contact local lawmakers, share this story with them, and see if it's time to reconsider the way things are handled.


Powered by Frankly