One day in October 2011, a Houston County woman and a friend shoplifted items from stores on Presidential Parkway in Macon.
A security officer called a Macon police officer who worked part time providing off-duty security at the shopping center. When officers responded to the call, both of them were on duty and in uniform.
One of the officers, 28-year-old Freddie Fountain, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual assault on a person in custody and violating his oath of office. The charges stemmed from Fountain’s having sex with one of the women instead of taking her to jail.
Fountain was sentenced to 10 years, three of them in prison. Once he’s on probation, Fountain must register as a sex offender.
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His trial began Monday in Bibb County Superior Court with jury selection. He entered his plea on the morning that opening statements from attorneys in the case were scheduled.
Prosecutor Dorothy Hull said the woman who ultimately had sex with Fountain was charged with felony shoplifting from the store, while her friend’s theft was classified as a misdemeanor.
The officers decided that Fountain would take the felony case because he hadn’t had any recent felony arrests and it would improve his unit’s statistics, Hull said.
The woman was handcuffed and put in the back of Fountain’s police cruiser.
Hull said the woman admits she was addicted to prescription pills on Oct. 11, 2011, during her encounter with the officer.
She was “highly intoxicated” and became very emotional about the thought of going to jail for a felony, Hull said.
The woman pleaded, “Please, don’t take me to jail. I’ll do anything not to go to jail,” and the atmosphere in the patrol car changed, Hull said.
Fountain drove to an apartment on Mercer University Drive with the woman still handcuffed in his back seat. At some point, the handcuffs were removed and the two had sex at the apartment, while Fountain was still on duty, she said.
Fountain drove the woman back to Presidential Parkway, where she got into her car and called her friend, who’d been taken by the other officer to the police precinct at Macon Mall. She’d been issued a citation, Hull said.
The woman told her friend what had happened, and they drove back to Houston County.
Later, when the friend received a notice to appear in court, she said she wanted to subpoena the woman. The woman confided in a friend, a Perry police officer, who reported her encounter with Fountain to Macon police, Hull said.
An Internal Affairs probe was launched, which led to investigators’ interviewing the woman and her friend -- and criminal charges being filed against Fountain.
Had the case gone to trial, the evidence would have been clear that the woman “was not in her right mind” when she had sex with Fountain and that Fountain took advantage of her, Hull said.
“He violated the trust the public had put in him as a police officer,” she said.
The woman now lives and works in England, where she’s recovered from her addiction, Hull said.
Prosecutors paid for her to be flown back to Georgia for the trial and requested that Fountain be ordered to reimburse taxpayers for the ticket, but the judge denied the request.
In pleading guilty, Fountain said he was doing so because it was in his “best interest.” He faced a possible 30-year sentence if convicted by a jury.
His attorney, Sam Hart Jr., asked that Fountain be allowed to turn himself in to authorities later to begin his prison sentence so he can be free for the birth of his child early next year. Fountain’s fiancee and other supporters were in the courtroom during Tuesday’s hearing.
The judge denied Hart’s request and also denied a request to sentence Fountain as a first offender.
As bailiffs led Fountain from the courtroom, a supporter became emotional and was led out of the room.
“I love you, Freddie,” she yelled.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.