Citizen journalist who was roughed up at GOP rally seeks sexual assault charges against deputy

Nydia Tisdale, the citizen-journalist from Roswell who was roughed up in August 2014 for recording video at a Dawsonville GOP rally, has asked state prosecutors to file sexual assault charges against the sheriff's deputy who blocked her from taping the rally.

In a letter to Attorney General Sam Olens and Georgia Bureau of Investigation chief Vernon Keenan, Tisdale said she was forced to take prescription pain medication to ease the pain in her pelvic region and that she had "tremendous difficulty walking, sleeping, eating and drinking" after the 2014 confrontation with Tony Wooten, who was then a Dawson County deputy.

She also said Tuesday she filed a state lawsuit seeking punitive damages against the owners of Burt's Pumpkin Farm, where the public campaign event was held. Tisdale earlier filed a federal lawsuit claiming that she was “assaulted and improperly arrested” during her recording of a public campaign event at the farm.

An attorney for Wooten declined a request for comment on Monday, but in court filings he has denied the allegations of assault in Tisdale's complaint. An attorney representing Wooten and another deputy wrote in the court filing that Tisdale was aggressively yelling at Wooten and that she was "jumping around and kicking at" him.

The video of her arrest made for some uncomfortable images of Republican leaders shortly before the general election. Much of the GOP ticket was at the rally, but Attorney General Sam Olens was the only one who objected to the woman’s treatment. The owners of Burt’s Farm have called Tisdale’s claims “lies” and blasted Olens for standing behind her.

Wooten, meanwhile, lost a bid for Dawson County sheriff this year and recently resigned from the department.

More: Watch the video here.

Tisdale has pleaded not guilty to a string of criminal charges stemming from her run-in that day, which include a misdemeanor count for not pausing her camera during the arrest. The charges were filed just weeks after Tisdale’s attorneys notified Dawson County of her intent to sue — in a local court — for at least $550,000 in damages.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.