A former deputy with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has been arrested and charged by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
According to a news release from GBI officials, Nicholas Maddox, 34, of Dawsonville, was arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 2 and charged with sexual assault by a person of supervisory or disciplinary authority after he “was sexually involved with a Forsyth County inmate while working in the jail in 2015.”
Per the release, Maddox was booked by FCSO and has been released on bond and the case will next go before Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Penny Penn for prosecution once the investigation is complete.
On Wednesday, Sheriff Ron Freeman told the Forsyth County News that Maddox was fired in April 2020 after the office began an internal affairs investigation the month before to look into a separate incident, which Freeman said was not criminal but “basically a moral issue and on-duty issue.”
“We had a complaint brought forward by an uninvolved party, who said that [Maddox] was acting inappropriately on- and off-duty with a waitress,” Freeman said. “That led to the [internal affairs] investigation that led to his termination, and I’ll say this, he lied during the investigation.”
Freeman said lying during the investigation did not have criminal charges, “but when you lie here, you’re fired.”
He said after Maddox’s dismissal, another deputy came forward saying he had heard rumors about the 2015 incident. Both Freeman and the GBI said he asked the agency to take over the investigation in May 2020.
Freeman said even if the interactions between Maddox and the inmate were consensual, it was still illegal under state law due to the deputy having authority over an inmate, which he likened to a teacher-student relationship.
FCSO officers have a mantra, Freeman said, of “having the courage to confront,” or calling out other coworkers who are not representing the office in the best light.
Freeman said usually that means smaller issues that might require some actions from a deputy without involving a superior, like having a word with other deputies who having are a bad day and talking roughly to citizens, but also includes when bigger issues arise.
Freeman said having one deputy willing to call out wrongdoing from another was a silver-lining from the incident.
“When you have people that are willing to police their own, when you have people who are willing to go, ‘That is not who we are, that is not what we do and I’m not going to let that happen here,’ now we know we are setting the ship in the right direction, and I think that is important,” Freeman said.
As police tactics have gained nationwide attention following last year’s death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, Freeman said it is more important than ever “to make sure these bad actors, when they do rise up, never wear a badge again because they’ve lost their right to do that.”
Freeman said Maddox had reportedly interviewed with another agency since he was let go but had not been hired.
“We know that he applied for and was interviewed by at least one other law enforcement agency after we terminated him. They did not hire him,” Freeman said. “I’m not at liberty to say who that was, but we as a profession have to stop allowing bad actors to stay in this profession.”