A sheriff in Georgia has pleaded guilty to groping Judge Glenda Hatchett. The plea comes after Hatchett reported that Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody groped her at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Bar while attending the Georgia Sheriffs Association’s winter meeting on Jan. 18, 2022, according to an arrest warrant of the incident previously obtained by PEOPLE.
Hatchett was at the conference as the guest of former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, who first revealed Hatchett’s story to WSB-TV in May 2022. The incident took place as he introduced Hatchett to Coody, Brown said.
“As I turned to my left to focus back on the two of them, I saw his hand go down on her left breast,” Brown told the outlet. “I grabbed his arm, threw it off of her chest, and basically said, ‘What are you [expletive] think you’re doing?’ and that’s basically where it ended.”
According to the Associated Press, Coody pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery and was given one year of probation, a $500 fine, and sentenced to 400 hours of community service. Coody was also sentenced to a psychosexual evaluation and alcohol and drug course, according to 13WMAZ, which his lawyer, Joel Pugh, shared with the outlet has already been completed. PEOPLE has reached out to Pugh’s office for comment.
In a statement shared with 13WMAZ, Cody confirmed his guilty plea and that he had resigned as sheriff of Bleckley County. He held the position since 2017, per the Associated Press.
“This morning I plead Guilty to a misdemeanor charge in Cobb County State Court. To be clear, I had no intent to touch Ms. Hatchett inappropriately. Unfortunately, I acted in a careless manner and for that I have taken full responsibility for my actions,” the statement read in part. “Additionally, I have resigned as the Sheriff of Bleckley County effective 8:00 a.m. August 21, 2023, and as such thereby forfeited the pension that is typically associated with that office.”
Cody reflected on his time in law enforcement as one of “privilege and honor” and thanked his community for the opportunity to serve as sheriff.
“I would like to express that it has been an honor to serve the citizens of Bleckley County and I appreciate the support I have always received and continue to receive from them along with the entire staff of the Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office,” the statement added. “I would like to apologize to the citizens of Bleckley County for the entirety of this unfortunate incident.”
On Monday, Hatchett also spoke out about the incident telling reporters in a news conference shared by FOX 5 that she “never expected” to be left so “deeply affected.”
“I had to file charges. There had to be accountability because the message needs to be clear that you cannot do this,” she added. “How dare you do this? And if he would do this to me after being introduced to him as Judge Hatchett, what else is happening?”
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