Almost two years after a sexual assault incident involving a 15-year-old girl, a grand jury recently cleared three Cedar Shoals High School students of rape and other charges, as reported in the Athens Banner-Herald.
Following the teen girl’s allegations of being sexually assaulted in a school stairwell in January of 2016, the students were immediately arrested.
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A part of the alleged assault was caught on the school’s surveillance camera. Athens Clarke County police also found the girl’s story to be credible.
A few weeks after the arrest of Xavier Marquise Clarke, Markel Dereek Brannon, who were both 18 at the time of the incident, and then 17-year-old Jaivious Malik Collins, the grand jury indicted them on multiple charges including rape, criminal attempt to commit a felony, child molestation, false imprisonment, criminal attempt to commit aggravated sodomy and conspiracy.
At the arraignment, their attorneys said the sexual encounter with the girl was actually consensual.
After investigating the case further, the grand jury revisited the case and on Nov. 21 gave a new indictment that charged the defendants with the single offense of child molestation.
The reasoning behind that indictment was that “they did individually and as a party to a crime, commit an immoral and indecent act…to satisfy (their) sexual desires.”
Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin stated that, “based on the new evidence and further information and review the case was presented again to the grand jury who determined that there was not sufficient evidence for the defendants to stand trial on those charges.”