BACON CO, Ga. (WTOC) - Bacon County Sheriff Mark Cothren surrendered to his own jail on Wednesday after a case led by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations discovered allegations of assault and battery.
The Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney requested that the GBI investigate allegations that the Sheriff assaulted a 75-year-old man in front of the Bacon Co. Sheriff’s Office.
The man accused the sheriff of grabbing him. Alma Police say the man left the sheriff’s office and went to file a complaint with the police department, who then put him in touch with the GBI. Since then, agents have interviewed the man, the sheriff, and possible witnesses, as well as looking at security video.
Cothren handed himself over the Bacon Co. Jail without incident. He is charged with one count of elder abuse, one count of violation of oath of office, and one count of battery.
According to the Bacon County Sheriff’s Office website, Cothren has been with the office since 1990.
He’s held several positions there, including investigator and chief deputy. He ran unopposed in the 2016 election, and took over as the Bacon County Sheriff on January 1, 2017.
Cothren’s bio on the website reads “I have, and will remain helpful and courteous to our citizens in their time of need. I want every citizen to feel comfortable when they interact with the Bacon County Sheriff’s Office.”
The GBI investigation is ongoing. They’re now waiting to see who will prosecute the case because the district attorney’s office for the circuit requested that they be recused due to possible conflict of interests. A special prosecutor will be appointed.
WTOC spoke with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association who says it’s formally requested that the governor appoint a three-person panel - the attorney, attorney general, and two sheriffs - to review the case and recommend whether the sheriff can stay in office during the case. The governor could also suspend him for 60-90 days, or could formally remove him from office.
We’ll keep you updated on that decision and on the rest of the case.