NEW DETAILS: North GA teens charged with post-prom sexual assault
The fallout continues in northwest Georgia where three Calhoun High School seniors have been charged in a sexual assault case.
Thursday, May 29th 2014, 5:05 pm EDT
CALHOUN, GA (WRCB) - A post-prom attack involving Calhoun high school students continues to consume the town. A prayer service was held Wednesday night at a local church where residents could pray for their city.
It all started at an after-prom party at a cabin near Elijay earlier this month. Investigators say about 25 underage kids were drinking alcohol and three guys ended up sexually assaulting an 18-year-old female. Gilmer County investigators conducted 50 witness interviews before charging three males with aggravated sexual battery.
The sexual assault suspects are Fields Chapman, Damon Avery Johnson and Andrew Haynes. They're all 18, athletes and recent Calhoun High School grads, though they weren't allowed to attend the ceremony amid the allegations that stem from prom night, May 10th. They were arrested Wednesday, two and a half weeks into the investigation. Now we're learning two of them were already on probation.
READ MORE | 3 suspects now in custody
"Pretty overwhelming for any 18-year-old kid to have to deal with a very adult situation like this. These charges are very serious and carry some very stiff penalties," Calhoun attorney Jesse Vaughn said.
Vaughn is representing suspect Avery Johnson who, along with his class-mates, Fields Chapman and Andrew Haynes, faces an aggravated sexual battery charge. It's a felony that carries 25 years to life in prison.
"It's scary and I think Avery's been a little overwhelmed by that," Vaughn said, "We believe our client is not guilty and we're going to do everything we can to prove that."
All three bonded out of the Gilmer County jail within a couple hours of being booked Wednesday, but none answered the door when we stopped by their houses Thursday.
Investigators say they have enough forensic evidence to prove they all took part in sexually assaulting an 18-year-old girl in a bedroom during an alcohol-fueled post-prom party at a cabin at the Coosawatte River Resort.
"I've been here 23 years and her injuries were substantial,"Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said.
Gilmer County investigators say they plan to charge as many of the around 25 party attendees as they can with underage drinking. That's a crime Channel 3 confirms two of the three suspects had already pleaded guilty to earlier this year. We obtained Calhoun Police and Court documents that show Chapman and Haynes were serving probation when all this happened. Police busted Haynes' in February with alcohol at a Calhoun High School basketball game. They found Chapman with alcohol last month in a parked car full of teens.
"Teens and alcohol just don't mix. They do not mix. There's nothing good that can come out of it and it's not just a little innocent fun," Sheriff Nicholson said.
Gilmer County investigators say they've turned over cell phone evidence for the GBI to examine.
They say more charges could be coming against at least one other person who witnessed the sexual attack, but did nothing to stop it. We'll continue to follow the latest developments in this case.