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Ga.’s shame: Speaker is using his position to delay trial for accused rapist, others

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, left, joins House Speaker David Ralston as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harold Melton delivers the annual state of the judiciary address before a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, left, joins House Speaker David Ralston as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harold Melton delivers the annual state of the judiciary address before a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly on Tuesday in Atlanta. AP

A family invited a traveling evangelist to stay with them while the evangelist preached at their church. As the parents slept, the evangelist allegedly raped their 14-year-old daughter. Five years later, the daughter is in weekly therapy and cannot get closure. She is forced to remember every detail.

The daughter, now 19, is forced to remember every detail because the accused evangelist hired the only lawyer in the state who can, for a fee, perform one special trick. The lawyer can have the evangelist’s date with justice postponed indefinitely by stopping any effort to bring the man to trial. So the victim must ensure her memories stay intact waiting and hoping that one day she might be able to finally face her alleged attacker. How would you feel if your daughter had been the victim knowing her rapist is free. How you you feel if your daughter were forced to keep her memories.

A man savagely beat his girlfriend, a grand jury charged. She is the third woman he’s accused of beating. The woman’s memories are failing as time goes by. She cannot confront her attacker in court and he openly brags that he paid $20,000 to hire the evangelist’s lawyer to make sure he too would never have to go to trial.

These are the facts uncovered in a breathtaking report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Multiple criminal defendants have hired House Speaker David Ralston to be their lawyer. They pay him upwards of $20,000 and Ralston gets their cases continued repeatedly to avoid trial.

Georgia law states that no lawyer serving in the General Assembly shall ever be required to go to trial while the General Assembly is in its 40-day session. Lawyers serving in the General Assembly get “continuances” that allow cases to be postponed. Georgia’s House speaker believes he is entitled to continuances all year round. He has continued multiple cases to ensure his clients never go to trial.

In the case of the man accused of savagely beating his girlfriend, the man openly admits he paid Ralston just so this would happen. He most likely wants to outlast his girlfriend’s memory. Victims, including the rape victim years removed from the attack, must struggle to hold on to the memories in case they are ever called to court.

Ralston can get away with this because Republicans in our state House of Representatives allow him to continue as speaker. This is the third scandal of his tenure. He has previously faced a bar complaint by a former client for egregiously seeking to continue a case the client wanted resolved. Ralston also took a lobbyist trip to Europe with his family and others that raised questions.

Republicans keep giving him a pass. But now, in giving him a pass, Republicans are actively aiding and abetting keeping an accused child rapist from ever facing justice. They are keeping a man who reportedly beats women from ever having to face a jury. They are even enabling one man to go 10 years without ever having to face a judge for his DUI. Ralston can only do this because his state House colleagues and, in particular, the Republicans, allow him to get away with it.

Imagine if your child had to cling to memories of rape because the speaker of the House of Representatives used his power to ensure the rapist never had to stand trial. I encourage you to demand your state representative go on record. Do they support this? If not, will they stop it?

Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.

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