During a special called meeting of the Dawson County Board of Education on Friday Jan. 21, board members unanimously voted to terminate employment for James Gregory Jeffers, the Dawson County Junior High School coach who is facing child molestation and sexual battery charges.
Prior to the board’s vote, Cory Kirby, an attorney with Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins LLP, the firm that represents the school system, presented board members with the facts of the case and the discussions that he has had with the lawyer representing Jeffers.
The 49-year-old Dahlonega man was a teacher and coach at Dawson County Junior High School and was employed with Dawson County Schools for 2.5 years. He was arrested on Dec. 2, 2021 for one count of sexual battery before being charged with a second count of sexual battery on Dec. 3.
Jeffers was released on bail following these two counts, under the conditions that he had no contact with any of the victims, witnesses or defendants, did not have contact with any child or teenager under the age of 16 and did not go within 500 yards of any of the victims’ residences, workplaces, schools or places of worship.
“As you can see and hear from the bonding conditions, Mr. Jeffers at that time would not be able to do his job; he would not be able to be around any school-age children,” Kirby said. “Then there were additional charges brought against Mr. Jeffers; another 5 different charges involving sexual battery and sexual assault regarding students. Mr. Jeffers was re-arrested and re-incarcerated, and at that time Mr. Jeffers was not offered bond.”
From Dec. 10 until Jan. 14, Jeffers remained in the detention center. According to Kirby, he and Jeffers’ lawyer sat down with Jeffers and Superintendent Damon Gibbs, on behalf of the school system, to agree on a stipulation of facts, or a list of statements that both sides can agree are true facts.
“In dealing with Mr. Jeffers and his lawyer, we agreed to a stipulation of facts,” Kirby said. “Mr. Jeffers’ lawyer and I came up with a list of facts that we both agreed are correct and we stipulate to those facts; the stipulated facts which were signed by both Dr. Gibbs and Mr. Jeffers.”
Kirby read the board members the list of stipulated facts, which stated that Jeffers was arrested on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 for two counts of sexual battery including allegations that he intentionally made physical contact with the intimate part of a child under the age of 16, that he was offered and agreed to bond out of jail under the previously stated conditions and that three additional charges alleging sexual battery and child molestation were brought against Jeffers and lead to his re-arrest on Dec. 10.
The stipulated facts, which were signed on Jan. 13, 2022, went on to say that Jeffers was denied bond after being re-arrested on Dec. 10, that he had been in continuous custody since then, that his council had filed for a motion for bond and a hearing was set for Jan. 14, and that Jeffers expected that the court would set him a reasonable bond subject to the same or similar bond conditions that were imposed on him when he was bonded out of jail after his first arrest.
“Mr. Jeffers understands that the stipulations have been prepared by his council with Mr. Jeffers’ permission and that the stipulations will be presented to the Dawson County Board of Education as part of the due process that must be put in before the superintendent reaches a decision,” Kirby said.
Kirby added that, while Jeffers agreed to the stipulated facts about his arrests, arrest dates and bond conditions, he adamantly denies the charges and does not admit any fault or any wrongdoing in regards to any of the five criminal charges that have been levied against him.
On Jan. 14, Jeffers was granted a second bond, with the conditions that he is to be on house arrest and must not leave his house other than to apply for employment or attend approved appointments. The conditions also dictate that Jeffers may not have contact with any children under 18 years old, must stay 500 yards away from all victims involved in the case, may not have contact with any current DCJHS students or employees or any former students who were at DCJHS during his employment, and may not be employed as a teacher.
“He signed this [list of bond conditions] Jan. 18 of 2022,” Kirby said. “Based on not only the stipulation of facts but the bonding conditions on Jan. 14, it is clear that Mr. Jeffers is unable to do his job; in fact a judge has ordered that he not be a teacher.”
Based on all of the information provided and the current bond conditions, Gibbs recommended to the board that Jeffers’ employment with the school system be terminated.
“Mr. Jeffers was not going to resign, so Dr. Gibbs’ recommendation is for termination,” Kirby said.
The board members unanimously voted to terminate Jeffers’ employment with the Dawson County School System.