Sheriff says deputy didn't rape inmate; GBI prepares case

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

September 25, 2006

An inmate claims a Warren County deputy sexually assaulted her...and today, after almost two months of silence, the sheriff sits down exclusively with News 12 to talk about the investigation.

Sheriff Joe Peebles tells us there is no indication that Deputy Dewayne Wood did anything wrong. But the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says they've spent almost two months collecting evidence, and now they're ready to turn the case over to the district attorney's office.

The sexual assault investigation creates more questions than answers for many. That's why around a dozen people gathered at the sheriff's office today.

"We haven't obtained any information or anything about this situation," said Elija Grier.

Deputy Dewayne Wood was taking a woman to the McDuffie County Jail for theft and fraud charges on August 10.

Sheriff Joe Peebles says the inmate claims she had sex with Deputy Wood...but the sheriff says nothing happened.

"The GBI did the investigation, they did not charge anybody," Sheriff Peebles said. "There were no findings, and there was no disciplinary action taken against Deputy Wood."

But GBI agent Gary Nicholson says the allegations are more serious than having sex on duty.

"The basic allegation is while transporting her from the courthouse to the jail, that the deputy stopped and sexually assaulted her in a remote area," he told News 12.

Investigators spent nearly two months trying to decide if there is enough evidence for the district attorney's office to prosecute--things like interviews and DNA testing. Now, they're ready to present their case.

But Sheriff Peebles says there was never enough information to support the sexual assault allegations.

"Right now there's no reason to believe anything happened," he said. "Other than her statement, there's no physical evidence to verify anything she said."

"If he's right or wrong, just let us know what's going on," Grier said.

After weeks of uncertainty, people in Warren County want the details about a deputy they depend on for protection.

Sheriff Peebles says Deputy Wood was on paid leave for seven days immediately following the incident and now he's working since he doesn't currently face any charges. Deputy Wood could be indicted when the grand jury meets in January.

The decision to suspend deputies is up to each individual sheriff's department.

Officers are commonly suspended if they're under investigation, especially if they used deadly force. But the GBI says there are no set guidelines.

The GBI was on the scene the night of the incident, August 10, and always takes over the investigation when an officer is involved.

Now it's a month and a half later. The sheriff says the officer is on duty because there's no evidence against him. But the GBI will give their facts over to the district attorney for any further action this week.

We will keep you updated.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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