RINGGOLD – With one element of his legal problems behind him, Bartow County resident John Mulkey, the father charged but not yet indicted for allegedly inappropriately touching his daughter, now moves on to grapple with that charge in Cartersville, Ga.
Mr. Mulkey, along with one-third of his defense team, attorney John Lovett of the firm Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto went in front of Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Judge Ralph Van Pelt Thursday morning in the Catoosa County Justice Building to hear the ruling on a charge of violating the Georgia state handgun law.
Judge Van Pelt said, “If these statutes had been like we’ve been living with for however many years the outcome today would be quite different. As it is, the legislature has tinkered with the statutes and really messed things up for us.”
Taking a slight pause, the judge continued, “So, as it is, I must find you not guilty.”
The Georgia legislature has changed the handgun concealed carry laws twice in the past couple of years. As the law stands now, one does not need a permit to carry a handgun in a vehicle or have it in your home in the state of Georgia.
Over one year ago, Mr. Mulkey was pulled over by a Catoosa County deputy sheriff for having an inoperative tag light on his vehicle. This occurred on Aug. 2, 2009 as he was going to the Sonic restaurant in Ringgold to pick up a friend. During the routine traffic stop the deputy ran his name through NCIC (National Crime Information Computer) and discovered that a warrant had been issued just days before for his arrest on the molestation charge. Thus began Mr. Mulkey’s journey through Georgia’s legal system, in his own words, “guilty until proven innocent.”
His daughter was removed from his home over 15 months ago. Mr. Mulkey has proclaimed his innocence from the very beginning, even having passed two separate polygraph exams.
Although charged, Mr. Mulkey has yet to be indicted on the molestation charge. The charge was made by the family of his deceased wife, Casey. Mrs. Mulkey passed away from leukemia in May of 2008. His former in-laws reside in the Pacific Northwest states of Washington State and Idaho, as well as in Colorado. The daughter had initially confirmed the accusation after being interviewed over and over by the Bartow County Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS), in a situation that defense attorneys claim is very much similar to that which took place in the Tonya Craft case. The daughter has since said the touching did not happen.
Ms. Craft, a Chickamauga kindergarten teacher, was charged with 22 counts of molesting three young girls. She was acquitted on all 22 counts by a Catoosa County jury, effectively ending a 98-plus percent winning streak in these types of cases by Assistant District Attorneys Chris Arnt and Len Gregor. It was Mr. Arnt representing the state Thursday morning against Mr. Mulkey.
In a telephone interview today, Bartow County lead investigator, Sgt. Nancy Norris, refused to discuss the case or answer any questions related to the investigation. She said, “As you should understand, I really can’t discuss any portion of my investigation as the case has not yet been adjudicated.”
Continuing, she said, “Again, once the case has gone to trial and been adjudicated, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.” Bartow County prosecutor Susan Brookshire is handling the case for the state.
The next Grand Jury in Bartow County is set to be convened in October. It would be expected that they will take up the case at that time.
(Email Dennis Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at DennisENorwood.)