Ex-Georgia principal accused of sexual assault in 3 counties

Ryan Rickard, 34, has been accused of sexually abusing students

A former Georgia school administrator accused of sexually abusing students was arrested Friday on multiple charges in three counties, the GBI said.

Ryan Rickard, who was an assistant principal at Morgan County High School until his resignation earlier this year, was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority, sexual battery and one count of rape, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.

Ryan Rickard (Credit: Oconee County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities believe he abused three students between the ages of 14 and 16 while he was a teacher and that there may be other victims. The GBI said the alleged sexual assaults occurred between 2011 and 2017.

“The charges were taken in three separate counties to include Walton, Oconee and Morgan,” Miles said.

Rickard, 32, of Bishop, was previously under federal investigation for attempting to access child pornography online, according to the GBI. The Department of Homeland Security requested assistance from the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit because the investigation had elements of federal and state crimes.

Rickard was immediately placed on administrative leave during the federal investigation, Morgan County School System Superintendent James Woodard said in a lengthy statement to the Morgan County Citizen. Woodard said authorities inspected Rickard's government-issued electronics and determined he did not use them to access child pornography. Rickard did not return to the school afterward and instead resigned, Woodard said.

“During the months leading up to the arrest, Morgan County High School Administration cooperated fully with law enforcement officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security,” Woodard said in the statement. “... We take the safety of our students seriously and took immediate action once contacted by law enforcement. We will continue to work with law enforcement to determine the extent of the behaviors that led to his arrest and will act in accordance with the information in the best interest of our students and their families.”

Rickard was booked into the Oconee County jail.

Before Morgan County High School, Rickard was a teacher at North Oconee High School in Watkinsville, a teacher and athletic director at Memorial Middle School in Conyers and a student teacher at Burke County High School.

“Child sexual abuse inflicts lifelong mental and physical scars on its victims and the added abuse of power in this case makes the crime even more egregious,” Nick Annan, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta, said in a statement.

According to Rickard's LinkedIn page, he began working as a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams in January. A woman who answered the phone Friday at Keller Williams' Watkinsville office said Rickard was still employed there.

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