Only on 12: Local attorney accused of rape, father blames 'politics'

Joe Neal Jr.

News 12's Chris Thomas got an exclusive interview with Joe Neal Jr. after his trial was continued on Monday. (WRDW-TV / April 30, 2012)

Monday, June 4, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A prominent Augusta attorney went to court on Monday.

Joe Neal Jr. is facing charges of rape and giving alcohol to someone under 21. This all started last December when an 18-year-old babysitter told investigators Neal gave her drugs and alcohol before making sexual advances.

"Listen. I am a lawyer," said a visibly frustrated Joe Neal Sr. "I don't talk about cases that are pending, son."

News 12's cameras were rolling as Neal Jr. went before a judge. Court started at 9 a.m. -- as a pool of jurors was whittled down to 12, plus three alternates. The jurors were given a questionnaire to help the prosecution and the defense come up with their list.

"This community is a good community. It will give a fair trial in this case. No question about it," said Neal Sr. "The facts will come out."

As the day started, there was a discussion about Neal's attorney having represented the victim's mother in a 2008 divorce proceeding. The judge dismissed that concern over a conflict of interest.

Neal Sr. dismisses the allegations as a political ploy.

"That's just the reality of the type of political system we have," he said. "Look at John Edwards ... same thing.

Neal's attorney say Neal has been "falsely accused."

"I have been OK, that's my only comment," said Joe Neal Jr. in exclusive comments to News 12. "We are going to try our case in the courtroom."

Neal's team has also served Mayor Deke Copenhaver with a subpoena. Copenhaver gave his deposition last week. The mayor could be called to testify this week.

Neal's ex-wife, Caroline Neal, was arrested on battery and family violence charges. She pleaded not guilty earlier this year.


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