March 26, 2007
WARREN CTY, Ga.---A former Warren County High School principal accused of sex crimes pled guilty on Friday, March 23.
Thomas McDonald admitted to one count of solicitation of sodomy after a four-month investigation that started when a 15-year-old student accused him of asking her for oral sex on school grounds.
News 12 sat down with the young victim for the first time since the story broke.
It's a bitter sweet victory for this teenager. This was a man she not only trusted but respected. And when she came out with her story, she knew it wasn't going to be an easy battle in court.
34-year-old Thomas McDonald was on the fast track. Just two years after he was hired as assistant principal at Warren County High School, he was already promoted to the top job as principal.
Warren County Superintendent Carol Jean Carey says he even came with glowing recommendations from his job as a teacher at Burke County High School. School officials described him "outstanding", "tremendous", and "a right hand man to all administrators." His references for the job all score McDonald as a "1" in every category, the highest score an employee can get.
So you can imagine the surprise from the community when we told them four months ago what McDonald was accused of doing.
The shy and timid 15-year-old girl behind the accusations asked us not to show her face because of the nature of the crime. We'll call her Alicia.
The night was November 18, 2006. Alicia says just before they left for their playoff game versus Bowden High School, McDonald told her he wanted to have oral sex with her.
"I didn't know what to think," she said.
She says she was too shocked to say anything, and she walked away. But she says the sexual advances did not stop there.
When it was time to change into her band uniform, she asked McDonald if she could do so in the privacy of his office, away from the other students.
"He told me I could change my shirt right there in front of him."
Four months later, on Friday, March 23, McDonald pled guilty to solicitation of sodomy.
"He said he was sorry for people calling me a liar and stuff," Alicia said.
The district attorney's office was ready to bring evidence to the courtroom that McDonald committed similar crimes in the past. Five of the six incidents listed took place on school grounds.
In 2001 he allegedly kissed a student, and in 2003 there was another alleged act of solicitation of sodomy.
Superintendent Carey insists that because those incidents were never prosecuted, there was no way for her to find out in a background check. That leaves her to ask the question on everyone's mind: "Oh, geez...why didn't somebody know?"
Back in January, a grand jury indicted Thomas McDonald on an additional charge of enticing a child, but on Friday, that charge was dropped.
The DA's office tells News 12 McDonald faces one year of probation, and he'll also have his teaching license revoked.