Charges Dropped Against Whitfield Coach For Not Reporting Alleged Abuse
WHITFIELD COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – Charges against Whitfield County coach Lamar Cofield, for failing to report suspected child abuse, have been dropped.
District Attorney Bert Poston confirmed today that the law did not require Cofield to make the report, therefore resulting in the decision to drop the charges against him from back in October.
“Under Georgia law as interpreted a couple of years ago by the Georgia Supreme Court, a person who is otherwise a mandated reporter and required to report abuse that comes to their attention cannot be prosecuted for failure to report when the information came to their attention outside of the context of the employment that makes them a mandated reporter.
In other words, a teacher who learns at school that one of her students is being abused must report, but the same teacher that learns outside of the school that some other child is being abused is under no such duty. They can report and there are some civil protections if they do report, but they are not required to nor can they be prosecuted for not reporting.
Regardless, under current law, the facts of Mr. Cofield’s case are such that the law did not require that he make the report. Whether he should have, in good conscious, is a separate issue.”
DA Bert Poston added, “We tried to legislatively fix that last year but the bill did not make it through the general assembly for other reasons. It may come back up this year.”
There has been no word on whether Lamar Cofield will be reconsidered for any of his previous duties within the Whitfield County School System.
UPDATED: October 9, 2017
Whitfield County, Ga. (WDEF) – An employee of the Whitfield County School System and Northwest High coach has been arrested for failing to report an alleged rape at a teen party.
34-year-old football and basketball coach Lamar Cofield was arrested and charged on October 6th with failure to report an incident that occurred in early July.
On September 29th, the family of a high school student reported that she had been raped while attending a party during the first of July. This led to an investigation initiated by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
During the investigation, it was determined that five high school kids attended a party at a residence that belonged to one of the boys at the party during the evening hours of July 1st.
The investigation found that alcohol was being consumed by the kids at the party and that an adult female, and relative to the student living at the residence, was also at the party. The underage students consumed alcohol in her presence, and the female consumed alcohol with them.
During the party an employee of the Whitfield County School System and coach at Northwest High School came by the residence and stayed in the residence for over an hour. While at the residence he observed the students consuming alcohol.
During his time at the party, one of the female students made him and the adult female aware that she had just been sexually assaulted.
Mr. Cofield is an employee of the school system, therefore he is considered a mandatory reporter. Yet, the school employee did not report the assault or activity of the students to authorities or school personnel.
On October 6th, Lamar Cofield was arrested and charged with Failure to report suspected child abuse. Also arrested on the same date was 33-year-old Ashley L. Turner. She was charged with furnishing alcohol to persons under the age of 21.
Sheriff Scott Chitwood states the investigation will continue at this time.