Editor’s Note: This story contains disturbing content.
A Georgia sheriff resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual battery charge Monday after he grabbed TV’s Judge Glenda Hatchett’s chest in January 2022, his attorney said.
Bleckley County Sheriff Kris Coody was sentenced to 12 months probation and was also ordered to complete community service. He must also pay a $500 fine and was ordered to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation, his attorney Joel Pugh told CNN.
Hatchett, a former chief presiding judge in Georgia and the star of TV shows “Judge Hatchett” and “The Verdict With Judge Hatchett,” thanked her attorneys during a news conference Monday and recounted what happened.
Hatchett said she was attending a reception and the sheriff came up to her “uninvited.” During introductions, the sheriff poked her briefly in the chest after the judge said she was not familiar with Bleckley County, and he said it was “right in the heart of Georgia,” Hatchett said Monday.
“But then he grabbed my breast. He grabbed my left breast. He squeezed it, he then started rubbing on my breast,” until someone removed Coody’s hand and pushed him away, Hatchett said.
Former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, who witnessed the incident, previously told CNN affiliate WSB he intervened when he saw Coody grab the judge’s breast.
“I grabbed his arm threw it off of her chest,” Brown told the news station, adding he asked Coody what he was doing and the interaction ended.
“I am a very strong woman, I pride myself on being strong and I really thought I was fine,” Hatchett said Monday during the news conference.
But in the days after the incident, Hatchett said she “could not stop crying,” could not get out of bed and went to therapy.
“I needed help. My life had been changed. And as I said to the judge in the court this morning that I never expected that I would be so deeply affected by this,” she said. “I cried and cried and cried in court.”
“There is a scar that he left and what I really resent is that someone could have that kind of power over me. That somebody could make me, in that moment, feel helpless. I’ve never felt so helpless in my entire life. And I was angry,” Hatchett said. “I was absolutely frozen.”
In a letter addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Coody resigned as sheriff Monday morning.
He resigned because “he is taking full responsibility for his actions. He regrets them and he thought it was the correct thing to do,” Pugh, his attorney, said.
“He has a distinguished career in law enforcement. Unfortunately, that’s over and I don’t know what he plans to do next,” Pugh added.
Coody was serving his second term as the county’s sheriff, a position he had been in since January 2017, according to Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.
Bleckley County is in central Georgia, and about 120 miles southeast of Atlanta.