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Georgia DA says prostitution ring ran on Fort Valley State campus; 7 charged

The list of suspects in a Fort Valley State University sex and prostitution ring reads like characters in a cheap novel.

A mortician who works part time as a county commissioner.

An assistant principal.

A city manager.

A former legal counsel for a university.

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Those are four of the six men that Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke says were clients of a prostitution ring that was run on campus between 2017 and earlier this year. Alecia Jeanetta Johnson, a 48-year-old former executive assistant to FVSU’s presidentis accused of being its ringleader who set up sex for the men.

Johnson, who was also the graduate advisor to a sorority on campus, is facing six counts of pimping. She also faces six counts of prostitution on allegations she performed, offered or consented to perform a sexual act for money or other items of value, prosecutors said.

Johnson is also charged with conspiracy to commit fiduciary theft stemming from allegations she conspired to take scholarship money, a book scholarship, that had been granted to a student in October 2015.

The six men were each charged with pandering and solicitation of sodomy.

Warrants were issued Tuesday for:

  • Ernest Harvey, 47, of Fort Valley an assistant principal in charge of discipline at Huntington Middle School in Houston County.
  • Kenneth Howard, 56, of Fort Valley, the city manager of Hinesville.
  • Ryan Jenkins, 35, of Fort Valley.
  • Charles Jones, 57, of Fort Valley, a former attorney for Fort Valley State.
  • Devontae Little, 26, of Warner Robins.
  • Arthur James Nance Jr., 46, of Cordele, the vice chairman of the Crisp County Board of Commissioners and a local pastor and mortician.

Cooke told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday afternoon that the seven had until next Tuesday to turn themselves in to the Peach County Sheriffs’s office. Aside from what he said at his press conference, Cooke was cautious with overall details of the case, as he said it is still open.

“The GBI reached the stage where there was sufficient evidence to support those arrest warrants,” Cooke told the AJC. “But just because we have been through this stage, doesn’t mean we are still not looking into things. We are going to continue to let this case be based on evidence and follow it wherever it goes.”

The investigation was conducted by the GBI, with assistance from the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and at the request of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. Officials announced in April they were investigating sexual misconduct and hazing at Fort Valley, about 30 miles south of Macon.

Cooke would not comment on any student involvement or abuse surrounding the investigation. Jones was the university’s chief legal counsel until he was fired a few months ago, university officials said.

Calls to each of the six men were not returned to the AJC.

Johnson resigned in April, days after the investigation began. Adrian Patrick, the attorney representing her, told the AJC at the time that she has not done anything illegal. Patrick said she had been “demonized” on social media. He did not respond to two telephone messages and an email Friday.

Fort Valley State released a two-paragraph statement Friday afternoon saying its first priority is the safety of its students while noting University System of Georgia immediately investigated when university officials learned about the allegations in April.

“We have consistently and aggressively worked with the University System of Georgia and law enforcement to ensure that anyone who allegedly puts our students at risk is investigated thoroughly and expeditiously, and have advocated for the most appropriate standards to be applied. While we cannot comment on the details of an ongoing investigation, we expect anyone who has compromised the trust of our students to be held accountable with all deliberate speed,” it said.

The University System completed its investigation in May and forwarded its findings to law enforcement, system spokesman Lance Wallace said Friday.

After the scandal broke, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. began its own inquiry into “unauthorized activities and misconduct involving current and former members,” according to a letter it sent to the Fort Valley State sorority chapter.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution received a copy of the letter in April from the university through the Georgia Open Records Act. Johnson was a graduate advisor for the sorority’s chapter.

The letter withdrew the chapter’s privileges, disqualifying it from participation in the sorority and all activities, “pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Cynthia Howell, the executive director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., did not return several phone calls or emails Friday.

The Wildcat, the school’s mascot, was erected in 1995 to honor Fort Valley State University’s centennial. (Ernie Suggs / esuggs@ajc.com) (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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