By Clarence Walker
A judge responded to an assault victim by demanding sex in exchange for 'legal favors.' She filed a complaint, and he sent cops to plant meth in her car.
With a plot out of a Hollywood movie or a gripping Lifetime TV show, a mesmerizing drama of sex, power, frame-ups, planted drugs, and lies unfolded in real life in Georgia when two Murray County sheriff's deputies recently pleaded guilty in federal court for their part in a scheme to send an innocent woman to prison. Now both deputies await sentencing on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury stemming from an FBI civil rights investigation into the odd goings-on Down South.
The woman in question, [name withheld], had filed a complaint with the Georgia Judicial Qualification Committee alleging that Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran solicited sex from her in return for legal favors. Shortly after [name withheld] filed her complaint, she was arrested on August 14, 2012 in sleepy Chatsworth, Georgia, and charged with possession of methamphetamines.
"My client was set up and framed with methamphetamine drugs by Judge Bryant Cochran, whom she had accused of soliciting her for sex in exchange for legal favors in a case she had in Cochran's court," attorney McCracken Poston told the Chronicle.
Poston, a former Georgia state representative from nearby Ringgold with a reputation as a crack attorney, is representing [name withheld] in a civil lawsuit against Murray County. And [name withheld] isn't alone. Since this scandal broke, three women who worked in Cochran's court have filed a separate lawsuit against the judge and the county claiming Cochran sexually harassed them while county officials negligently failed to protect their rights.
"The judge, two deputies, and a handyman named C.J. who is employed at Judge Cochran's property conspired to plant the drugs on my client. And if the frame-up hadn't been discovered my client would've been facing 25 to 30 years in prison," Poston said, echoing the allegations made it the lawsuit.
Although the drug charge was dismissed a week later at the request of investigators when the frame-up wax exposed, [name withheld] is still suffering the consequences of her false arrest. Under Georgia law, it takes one year for the charge to be removed from [name withheld]'s record, and the arrest has already cost her.
"My client was denied a much higher paid job due to the felony drug charge on her record and what the judge and cops did to her. Nobody should have to suffer like that," Poston said.
Lust and Privilege at the County Courthouse
According to [name withheld]'s lawsuit -- and largely supported by the record in judicial proceedings so far -- she went to the courthouse on April 9, 2012 in regard to an assault on her by three persons the previous day. When [name withheld] arrived at Cochran's office, he requested that she meet with him alone, preventing her sister, who had been an eyewitness to the assault, from attending or providing a corroborating statement.
"While privately sitting in chambers with Cochran, I related details about the assault," [name withheld] said in the lawsuit.
But Cochran was more interested in the state of her marriage, the suit alleges, whether or not she had cheated on her estranged husband, and whether the persons who assaulted her "have anything on her to hurt her divorce from [name withheld]." While shying away from particulars of the assault, Cochran made repeated comments about "how pretty" [name withheld] was and then veered into even more uncomfortable territory.
"My wife doesn't take care of my sexual needs and I need a mistress to have sex with I can trust," [name withheld] said Cochran told her. He had "a real boner" for her and wanted her to return to his office the following week, he added flirtatiously, the lawsuit alleges.
[name withheld] played along as if interested in his offer, the suit alleges, and then Cochran upped the ante by asking [name withheld] to send him a photo of herself in a seductive way to let him take a "sneak peek" at what he was going to get. After giving [name withheld] his private cell number, Cochran, with a fixed stare at [name withheld] gave her a direct order: "Come back on Wednesday with a dress and no panties so we can have sex."