October 21, 2005
Six Greenbrier High School students face charges ranging from statutory rape to aggravated molestation, even fornication. Columbia County gets at least twelve reports just like this every year. Ninety percent never get brought to police. The ten percent that are reported usually involve high-profile members of the community, like athletes.
Police say the majority of cases are not reported because people don’t understand the law, or the victim is too ashamed to come forward.
Space is no problem in the three-year-old detention center. Investigator Jimmy Edmunds is eager to put the unreported sexual offenders behind bars.
“They don’t really think about what they do until it’s done and over with, they don’t think about the ramifications of their actions,” Edmunds said.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Department responds to all the cases reported. Once suspects are indicted, they stay in the detention center until the attorney goes to superior court for a bond hearing.
Captain Brett Carani says they stay here until then.
“It’s an expense as far as guarding them, feeding them, medical, things of that nature,” Carani said.
The Columbia County Detention Center holds 265 inmates, and today there’s 204. Two thirds of those are in on a felony. Each inmates costs Columbia County $45 a day, but the state only reimburses $25 a day of the inmates’ cost, over $4,000 is out of pocket.
The extra cost aside, Captain Carani encourages more victims to speak up.
“They’re probably too afraid, shy, embarrassed to come forward,” Carani said.
The minimum age to consent to sex was fourteen until a law change in 1993, and now it stands at sixteen. Seventeen is an adult in the state of Georgia.
“They’re going. They’re gonna do what they want right then and not think about what’s gonna happen later,” Edmunds said.
Reginald Rice and Shadrick Harris’ bond hearing is set for Monday. The time has not been announced. They are in the maximum-security section of the detention center. The difference between this and the other area is the common area is much smaller and they are very closely monitored. Some inmates in this area are confined to their cells.