Arrest warrant issued for Paulding DA Donovan

Dick Donovan has served as the district attorney of the Paulding County Judicial Circuit since 2011.
Dick Donovan has served as the district attorney of the Paulding County Judicial Circuit since 2011.

Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan will have until Tuesday to surrender at the county jail, according to an arrest warrant filed Thursday afternoon.

Donovan could be suspended from his elected position if a committee appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp decides it’s necessary.

The 75-year-old Donovan, who has served as DA since 2010, was indicted this week on four felony charges: bribery, false swearing and two counts of violation of oath by public officer, allegations which stem from his relationship with a top female staff member.

The Georgia attorney general’s office has sent the indictment to Kemp’s office to appoint a review committee, as mandated in state law.

ExploreGrand jury indicts Paulding County district attorney Donovan

“If the commission determines that the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the office of the indicted public official and that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected thereby, the commission shall recommend that the public official be suspended from office,” the law states.

If suspended, Donovan would still get his salary. But he would stop getting paid if he is convicted of the offenses.

Thursday afternoon, a bench warrant was issued for Donovan’s arrest. Attorney General Chris Carr’s office requested that an arrest warrant be issued for Donovan following the indictment Wednesday. But since court documents show that all three Paulding County Superior Court judges recused themselves, the case was assigned to Judge Stephen Schuster. Schuster retired in December as a Cobb County Superior Court judge.

Donovan’s bond was set at $2,500, the court order states.

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Marietta attorney Jimmy Berry, listed as Donovan’s lawyer on court records, did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment on the indictment. A former attorney assigned to represent Donovan in the civil matter involving sexual harassment allegations also did not respond to a message sent Thursday.

Though it doesn’t happen often, Donovan isn’t the first Georgia DA to face criminal charges.

Tim Madison, the former DA for 24 years for Banks, Jackson and Barrow counties, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2008 for stealing taxpayer money. He served about two years and five months of the sentence, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Donovan’s legal troubles began in 2019, when Jamie White, a victim advocate in the Paulding DA’s office, accused him of sexual harassment. In January 2020, a $300,000 settlement was reached in the civil matter. But according to the GBI, Donovan broke criminal laws when he gave a sworn affidavit regarding his relationship with White.

“Said accused denied ever having said that he wanted to have sex with Jamie White, contrary to the laws of said state, the good order, peace, and dignity thereof,” Donovan’s affidavit said.

But White provided audio tapes and written notes as evidence for an outside investigator hired by Paulding County.

“If it’s sexual harassment, it’s unlawful,” Donovan said in the affidavit. “But I am very, very reluctant to characterize it as sexual harassment because, again, I have never suggested we have sex, I have never offered to have sex with her, I have never said I wanted to have sex with her, I have never tried to have sex with her. I have never touched her anywhere that was inappropriate.”

Donovan attended the Woodrow Wilson College of Law before he opened a private practice in Hiram in 1981 after working as a police officer. He previously served on the State Bar of Georgia’s Committee on Professionalism and on the Legislative Committee of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia, according to his biography listed on the Paulding DA’s office website.

He was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, and his term runs through 2022.

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