Several Bibb County court cases will be dismissed after allegations that a Bibb County sheriff’s investigator lied while under oath.
Prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor said the district attorney’s office is reviewing cases and will be throwing out the ones in which investigator Allie Seckinger is an essential witness.
It’s unclear how many cases will be thrown out, but most of Seckinger’s cases have involved charges of child molestation, Malcor said.
One high-profile case being tossed involves Bibb County’s first case of human trafficking.
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Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said Wednesday that Seckinger is on administrative leave with pay, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is checking the allegations.
Malcor said Seckinger testified at a Jan. 13 hearing held to determine whether a statement Twanndolynne Towns gave deputies in an attempted armed robbery case would be admissible in court.
While under oath, Seckinger testified that she didn’t coerce Towns into making a statement by saying that she’d call the Department of Family and Children Services and have Towns’ child taken away from her, Malcor said.
Seckinger testified that she read Towns her Miranda rights, and that Towns volunteered to give deputies a statement, according to a transcript of the hearing.
She said she asked dispatchers to call DFACS as a matter of policy, and she admitted telling Towns near the end of the interview that she needed to think about her child’s welfare while giving the statement, according to the transcript.
“It was said because her child is young, and I had made comments that armed robbery carries a lot of years and she wouldn’t see her child as a child, you know, growing up,” Seckinger testified.
Seckinger denied telling Towns that she was going to contact DFACS about the child in response to Towns’ claim that she wasn’t involved in the robbery attempt.
Two days after the hearing, an audio recording of the interview came to light that contradicted Seckinger’s testimony, and prosecutors determined that Towns’ statement couldn’t be used because it was illegally obtained, Malcor said.
The Towns case still will be prosecuted, just not using her statement to deputies as evidence, she said.
Malcor said cases that require Seckinger as a material witness are being thrown out because “once someone shows that they will lie under oath, we can’t give them another chance.”
District Attorney Howard Simms said he’s reviewing all materials pertaining to the case, and there’s an ongoing investigation into Seckinger’s testimony.
The maximum penalty for perjury is 10 years in prison.
One of the cases scheduled for dismissal concerns a 14-year-old girl who was “pimped out” for days at a house in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood in March 2009.
Shuntain N. Griffin, 31, and Marcus Dwayne Henley, 32, were indicted in November on charges of trafficking a person for sexual servitude.
The girl’s mother said she was at home doing her morning chores Wednesday when she got a call from the district attorney’s office saying that her daughter’s case would be dismissed.
“I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut,” the mother said. “I’m upset and I feel helpless.”
Griffin and Henley were being held at the Bibb County jail Wednesday night, according to jail records. Griffin has a $111,200 bond while Henley is being held without bond.
Modena said he called the GBI on Wednesday morning after conducting a preliminary internal investigation.
That investigation revealed information that conflicted with the state’s allegation, he said.
Modena said he requested the GBI’s help to remove the appearance of a conflict of interest or favoritism in investigating the allegations.
“It’s a situation I feel like we need other eyes looking at,” he said. “It’s a serious allegation, and there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment.”
Seckinger was removed from case work last week when the sheriff’s office first learned about the allegations, and she was placed on administrative leave with pay Wednesday, Modena said.
She will remain on leave until the conclusion of the GBI investigation.
Seckinger first started work at the sheriff’s office in 1994 and worked as a dispatcher, a deputy assigned to the drug and vice unit and on patrol before becoming an investigator in July 2006, according to her personnel file.
The file contains multiple positive job reviews and a half-dozen letters of appreciation from Seckinger’s supervisors, community residents and the district attorney’s office.
No reprimands are listed in the file.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.