A former Snellville Middle School teacher has pleaded guilty to biting a 14-year-old girl’s buttocks underwater at Lake Lanier Islands on July 4, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said.
Jonathan William Herbert, 30, of Dacula, entered a first offender plea to charges of battery, public drunkenness and bribery stemming from the July 4 incident in which he also offered a Hall County sheriff’s deputy money to let him walk away without arrest. He was also charged with sexual battery against a child under 16 and second-degree cruelty to children at the time, but the DA’s office dropped those charges.
Herbert was sentenced to 30 days in jail and four years of probation, Channel 2 Action News reported.
The victim was playing volleyball in Lake Lanier on July 4 around 8 p.m. when Herbert swam underwater and bit her on the buttocks, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said at the time. Multiple beachgoers saw the incident and Herbert was arrested. Gwinnett County Public Schools opened an investigation into Herbert after the incident and he resigned from the district on Aug. 1.
The district attorney’s office conducted “exhaustive plea negotiations” with Herbert and his attorney, Darragh said in an emailed statement. The victim’s family consented to the deal, in part because the victim did not want to testify in court, according to Darragh.
The DA’s office dropped the sexual battery charge because “the sexual intent behind the sexual battery and the evidence is very different than other sexual assault cases,” giving prosecutors worry that a jury may not have convicted on that charge, according to the nolle prosequi, a notice filed by prosecutors detailing why they won’t pursue a charge.
Herbert may not work as a teacher during the time of his probation and must avoid areas “where children congregate,” according to court documents. Because he entered a first offender plea, the charges will be wiped from his record if he successfully completes his sentence.
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