Middle Georgia sheriff surrenders in Cobb on sexual battery charge

Bleckley County Sheriff Kristopher Coody was arrested Friday night

The sheriff of Bleckley County in Middle Georgia surrendered late Friday on a sexual battery charge after an alleged incident at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, according to Cobb County jail records.

Sheriff Kristopher Coody allegedly touched a woman’s breast at the hotel bar, according to his arrest warrant. The action was taken “without her consent,” the warrant states.

Investigators said the alleged incident happened Jan. 18 at the Galleria Parkway hotel and was reported to police the following day. At the time, the hotel was hosting the Georgia Sheriff’s Association’s three-day winter training conference, the association’s online calendar shows.

After interviewing multiple witnesses, police said they obtained the warrant Jan. 28 for 57-year-old Coody. He was not in custody until Friday because he was out of Georgia on a church-sponsored mission trip, according to Chief Deputy Daniel Cape with the Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Coody was being booked into the Cobb jail. He was released about an hour later after posting $1,000 bond, booking records showed.

“Sheriff Coody has been a law enforcement officer for more than two decades and has tremendous respect for our court system,” Cape said in an emailed statement Thursday. “He is taking these allegations seriously and will meet with the appropriate authorities as soon as he returns.

“The Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office has always and will continue to believe in complete transparency,” the statement continued. “However, we will not comment any further on these pending criminal charges to allow the investigation to continue without interference.”

According to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, Coody was a member of the Georgia State Patrol from 1988 until 2007, when he went to work for the Bleckley sheriff’s office. He served as an officer with the state Department of Agriculture from 2008 to 2011 before returning to the sheriff’s office. Coody has served as sheriff since January 2017.

In 2009, Coody’s certification was put on probation for 24 months and he was required to attend an anger management course, according to POST records.

Bleckley County is southeast of Macon, about 120 miles south of downtown Atlanta.

— Data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.