Police chief arrest on sex charges shocks officials in two cities

Officials in two Pike County cities will likely meet Thursday to discuss the future of the one man who holds leadership positions in each following news of his arrest on charges that he used one position to solicit sex from young men and provided one with county gasoline.

The GBI reported Wednesday it had arrested Molena Police Chief James Roberts, who is also mayor of Concord, after an investigation into whether he used his position to gain the trust of at least two young men, said Sherry Lang of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Roberts provided one young man with his personal code and key to obtain county gas to fill up the man’s vehicle, Lang said.

The investigation, which included a search of two city halls, one police station and Roberts’ home, also charges Roberts sent obscene pictures to a juvenile on his city phone, Lang said. The two Pike County towns each have approximately 370 people. Concord is about 50 miles south of Atlanta.

“We’re in limbo at the moment trying to absorb everything,” said Molena Mayor Jay Garner, who said the city council had already been set to meet Thursday at 6 p.m. for a budget workshop. Officials will meet to discuss the personnel matter involving their police chief following that previously scheduled meeting.

Concord Mayor Pro Tem John Strickland said Roberts presided over Tuesday night’s city council meeting, and officials had no indication then that their mayor was facing any legal troubles.

“We were all shocked by it,” Strickland said. “If this is all true, we hope he will resign, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens from here.”

Strickland said GBI officials came to city hall Wednesday morning to inspect city computers. He said investigators searched the city clerk’s computer to make sure there was nothing on it, even though Roberts does not use that computer. He added that investigators did not take that computer after determining there was no information relevant to the case on there, but did take some of the city’s inactive computers with them to inspect.

Nothing so far has implicated the city in any malfeasance, Strickland said, and there has been no indication of any wrongdoing by Roberts in his capacity as mayor.

“We will try to get the council together [Thursday] to go over what’s gone on with these accusations,” Strickland said, adding that as of early Wednesday evening, he had not been apprised of all the details concerning the accusations against Roberts. “The city of Concord’s not implicated in anything here. This seems to be away from the city of Concord.”

The GBI was requested to investigate on Aug. 24 after grandparents complained to the Pike County Sheriff Office that Roberts was victimizing their grandson, Lang said.

District Attorney Scott Ballard, who presides in the Griffin Judicial Circuit that includes Pike County, determined Roberts would be charged with two counts of solicitation of sodomy and one count of theft by conversion, Lang said.

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