Suspended Paulding DA Donovan calls criminal charges ‘false allegations’

Credit: Paulding County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Paulding County Sheriff's Office

A day after Gov. Brian Kemp suspended him from office while he faces criminal charges, Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan said he’s done nothing wrong.

“The allegations are false,” Donovan said in a statement, emailed by his attorney.

The 75-year-old Donovan, who had served as DA since 2010, was indicted last week on charges of bribery, violation of oath by public officer, and two counts of false swearing. The allegations stem from his relationship with a top female staff member. He was arrested on Monday and spent just over an hour in jail before posting $2,500 bond.

Following an investigation by the GBI, Attorney General Chris Carr’s office presented Donovan’s case to a Paulding grand jury. After the indictment, Carr’s office requested that an arrest warrant be issued for Donovan and sent the indictment to Kemp.

In an executive order signed Wednesday, Kemp wrote that Donovan “has voluntarily authorized his suspension” as DA.

Under Georgia law, Donovan will remain suspended until his legal case is closed or his term ends, whichever occurs first. Donovan was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, so his term would expire at the end of 2022.

In his emailed statement, Donovan said he submitted a letter to Kemp agreeing to the suspension, but that doesn’t mean he is guilty. Donovan said he doesn’t want the allegations to “distract from the important legal work of the District Attorney” in Paulding.

“I categorically deny each allegation against me, but this fight will be time-consuming,” Donovan said. “That is why I have stepped away for now: I believe the people of Paulding County deserve a District Attorney who can fully carry out the functions and duties of the office without hesitation.”

After serving as a police officer for several years, Donovan attended law school and opened a private practice in Hiram in 1981 until he was elected DA.

Donovan’s legal troubles began in 2019, when Jamie White, a victim advocate in the Paulding DA’s office, accused him of sexual harassment. In January 2020, a $300,000 settlement was reached in the civil matter. But according to the GBI, Donovan broke criminal laws when he gave a sworn affidavit regarding his relationship with White.

“Said accused denied ever having said that he wanted to have sex with Jamie White,” Donovan’s indictment states. But White provided audio tapes and written notes as evidence for an outside investigator hired by Paulding County.

Donovan will continue to receive his salary while he is suspended, according to state law. If he is convicted, he will no longer receive a salary.