MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia sheriff pleaded guilty to groping TV judge Glenda Hatchett during a law enforcement conference last year and resigned from office Monday.
Bleckley County Sheriff Kristopher Coody pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery in Cobb County State Court, news outlets reported. Hatchett addressed the court, saying the ordeal had “cut me to the core.”
“For this man to come up and violate me the way he did is unspeakable,” Hatchett said.
Hatchett is an Atlanta attorney and star of the reality courtroom shows “Judge Hatchett” and “The Verdict With Judge Hatchett.” In 2016, she represented the family of Philando Castile, a black driver who was shot dead by a police officer in a Twin Cities suburb, in a highly publicized lawsuit.
During a January 2022 conference of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, while Hatchett was being introduced to a group of sheriffs at a hotel bar, Coody groped her, prosecutors said.
Thomas Brown, a former DeKalb County sheriff, said Hatchett came to the conference as his guest. Brown said he physically pulled Coody’s hand off of her.
“I saw his hand go down on her left breast,” Brown told WSB-TV. “I grabbed his arm, threw it off of her chest.”
Judge Carl Bowers sentenced Coody to serve one year on probation, pay a $500 fine and perform 400 hours of community service.
The sheriff’s attorney, Joel Pugh, said Coody sent a resignation letter Monday morning to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Coody had served since 2017 as sheriff of Bleckley County, a rural community of about 12,000 people located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Macon.
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward as Hatchett has.