A sheriff in Georgia pleaded guilty on Monday to groping a TV judge at a hotel bar last year while attending a law enforcement conference in the state.
Bleckley County Sheriff Kristopher Coody was sentenced to a year on probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery in Cobb County State Court in relation to the January 2022 incident in which he grabbed and squeezed the breast of Glenda Hatchett. He also formally resigned from his role.
“He so violated me, and at that moment I felt so powerless,” Hatchett told the Associated Press after the hearing Monday. “I see myself as a strong woman. I have never been a victim, and I felt it was important for there to be accountability.”
Hatchett, an Atlanta attorney who starred in reality shows Judge Hatchett and The Verdict With Judge Hatchett, had attended a meeting of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association in January last year. She went to the convention as the guest of former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, who introduced her to colleagues—including Coody.
At the convention hotel’s bar outside Atlanta, Hatchett said she told Coody that she didn’t know where his home county was located. She says he proceeded to point a finger at her chest and said: “In the heart of Georgia.” Hatchett says Coody then repeated the line and set about squeezing and rubbing her left breast. She said she froze in shock at Coody’s actions, and it was Brown who grabbed Coody’s arm and pulled him off her.
Hatchett said she “could not get out of bed” within two days of the incident and started counseling. She also reported what had happened to Cobb County authorities, who in turn obtained a warrant to arrest Coody.
As well as a year on probation, Judge Carl Bowers sentenced Coody to carry out community service and pay a $500 fine. Coody’s attorney Joel Pugh said the sheriff on Monday morning sent a letter of resignation to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. He had served in the role since 2017.
“I grieve for you,” Judge Bowers told Hatchett, according to Macon’s WGXA. “I’m sorry that you had suffered from this in the community in which I serve. I respect the fact that you have come here today.”
Hatchett said she wanted to speak out on the issue on behalf of other women who can’t.
“I don’t want to be the poster woman for this, but I think it’s important for me to be very candid,” she told the AP. “It’s important that other victims see me holding him accountable.”