PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia district attorney has been indicted on felony charges, accused of bribery and breaking his oath, among others.
According to the state officials, Paulding County District Attorney Donald Richard “Dick” Donovan was indicted Feb. 17 for bribery, two counts of false swearing, and violation of oath by public officer.
It's all stemming from an investigation conducted by the GBI into allegations Donovan sexually harassed an employee in his office.
A victim-witness coordinator, she accused Donovan in a federal lawsuit in 2019 of the harassment, which he denied. Donovan and the county ended up setting with the employee out of court.
“And I believe the county and the insurance company paid about $300,000 to settle it," said 11Alive legal analyst Page Pate, who is not connected with this case.
The GBI and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr then began investigating Donovan. Now, Donovan is accused of lying under oath when he denied sexually harassing her. He's also accused of trying to help her out of a shoplifting charge by bribing the prosecutor on that case, not with cash but with other incentives.
Attorney Page Pate said he isn’t sure the bribery charge will hold up.
“I think what the D.A. did was clearly inappropriate, but I think it may be a stretch to call it bribery under Georgia law,” Pate said.
Finally, Donovan is accused of violating his oath of office by the way he conducted himself in all of this.
“I think in a case like this, the argument could clearly be made that by his conduct with this employee, he was violating the oath he took as an elected district attorney,” Pate said.
If convicted, Donovan could face punishment as follows:
- Bribery: 1-20 years, and/or a fine up to $5,000
- Violation of Oath of Office: 1-5 years, and/or a fine up to $100,000
- False Swearing: 1-5 years, and/or a fine up to $1,000
11Alive has not yet been able to contact Donovan for comment.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Attorney General Carr said his office "appreciates the Paulding County Grand Jury for their careful consideration of this case."
“District attorneys work for the people and swear an oath to faithfully and impartially discharge their duties," Carr said. "It is our duty to hold public officials who violate their oath accountable, and we look forward to presenting our case in court.”
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said he intends to work with Carr to "help lead to a successful prosecution."
Donovan has been the district attorney for Paulding County since he was elected to the position in 2010. While it's unclear what Donovan's next step would be, the governor may activate a law that could lead to Donovan’s suspension from office until the case is settled. 11Alive contacted the governor's office to see if that would be the case, but had not received a response in time for this article.