Warren County man faces July trial in 2013 Georgia rape case

DNA samples recently collected from a Warren County pastor will be used in his trial on child rape charges filed in 2013 in Georgia.

Paul Jason Brothers, 39, of Massie Twp. in Warren County, is scheduled for trial in July in Towns County, Ga.

Among the charges Brothers faces is statutory rape, because the alleged victim was 14 years old in October 2012, when the incident reportedly took place.

RELATED: Georgia legislature tightens law that allowed House speaker to delay his cases

Brothers’ case is among those reported on in a joint newspaper and TV investigation about how the speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives delayed trials under a law giving lawmakers special privileges in state courts.

The stories prompted passage of a new Georgia law that limited the privileges.

“At this time, I’m not prepared to give you a comment,” Brothers said last week.

Brothers declined to comment on his case unless permitted by his lawyer, David Ralston, who is also the Georgia Speaker of the House.

A call to Ralston’s law office was returned by Ralston’s legislative aide, but Ralston himself could not be reached, and no comment or statement was provided.

RELATED: Alleged victims say powerful Georgia lawmaker repeatedly delays cases

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB Channel 2 Action News investigated delays in criminal cases in which Ralston was a lawyer. After public discussion of their investigation, Ralston agreed not to take on any more cases until he closed four cases that were spotlighted in the investigation, including Brothers’.

In April, Georgia lawmakers passed a law meant to limit the right of lawyers who serve in the state legislature to delay clients’ court appearances.

The investigation exposed Ralston’s use of the law to delay his cases.

RELATED: Proposed law on case delays relies on judges to push back

Ralston wrote a March 2015 letter requesting a delay in the Brothers case.

“As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, I expect to be on statutory leave during that week, either completing the 2015 session of the General Assembly or just having completed it and within the three-week period of time provided for thereafter,” Ralston said.

So far, Brothers’ case has been delayed at least eight times at Ralston’s request, according to a Journal-Constitution analysis of court records.

On Thursday, the case was taken back before a grand jury, which handed up indictments.

The new charges allege the crimes occurred between Oct. 5 and Oct. 21, 2012, which includes a time period beyond the days covered in an alibi defense brought forward by Ralston in November.

The new charges are one count of statutory rape, two counts of aggravated child molestation, three counts of child molestation and one count of simple assault.

In anticipation of the current trial date, July 29, Detective Brandi Carter of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office obtained swabs from Brothers on April 30 at his home on Harlan-Carroll Road, according to a search warrant.

The results are to be compared with tests on the mattress where the alleged crimes occurred in October 2012 at a home in Towns County, Ga., near the state’s northern border.

“On May 16, 2013, Towns County, Georgia law enforcement requested an interview of a rape suspect. Paul Jason Brothers was accused of sexually touching a minor victim,” Carter said in the search warrant affidavit.

“Paul maintains residency in Warren County, but often travels to Georgia for his pastoral duties. Paul is a long-time resident of Warren County, and remains at the same address today,” Carter added.

The detective provided other details of the alleged crime.

“The suspect was involved in a pastoral role at the victim’s church in Georgia, as well as other churches he traveled to. Paul befriended the victim’s family, and knew that the victim was 14 years old at time. Paul was traveling between Ohio and Georgia, and would often stay at the victim’s residence,” she said in the affidavit justifying compelling Brothers to provide the DNA samples.

“The victim disclosed that in October of 2012, while the suspect and victim were downstairs talking in the family room, the suspect pulled her to him on the mattress he usually slept on, and sexually assaulted her,” Carter said in the affidavit.

Carter and another detective obtained audio and video statements turned over to authorities in Towns County, Ga.

In addition to statutory rape, Brothers was charged with rape, aggravated child molestation, child molestation and simple assault before Thursday’s re-indictment.

According to the Journal-Constitution, Brothers, an evangelist who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was in Georgia to preach at North Mt. Zion Church of God, when the alleged crimes occurred.

The alleged victim, who suffers from a congenital heart defect, got up during the night for a glass of water. She said Brothers asked her for a hug, then grabbed her, according to the investigative report.

In addition to the eight continuances sought by Ralston’s law office, Judge N. Stanley Gunter granted prosecutors a continuance in November 2017.

This came in response to notice of the alibi defense raised earlier in the month - nearly five years after the alleged sexual assault.

Ralston and an associate indicated the alibi would show Brothers was traveling during the time of the alleged crimes and stopped for dinner and spoke by cellphone with witnesses identified in the court motion.

In addition, Assistant Prosecutor T. Buckley Levins said, “the State was again notified that a conflict exists between this specially set trial and a specially set trial scheduled to be held in Dawson County, Georgia.”

As a result, Levins said, “At this point, multiple dates of delay will make it highly difficult to pay for out-of-state travel” for witnesses such as Carter, the detective from Warren County who collected Brothers’ DNA in April and his statement in 2013.

The trial was still scheduled for July 29, although Towns County Clerk of Courts Cecil Dye said it was uncertain in light of the re-indictment.

“The prosecutor took it back to the grand jury to re-indict it,” Dye said. “I don’t know if it will be tried or not.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writers Johnny Edwards and Chris Joyner contributed to this report.

About the Author