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Sylvanian indicted for sex act with student, 14, on middle school grounds

A 34-year-old Sylvania man was indicted Monday on a charge of aggravated child molestation and accused of having oral sex with a 14-year-old girl at the middle school on May 13 -- during school hours and on school grounds.

Gary Jerome Hawkins, of Lariscy Lane, was indicted for aggravated child molestation and for enticing a child for indecent purposes for  “an incident that occurred on school grounds,” during the school’s Pioneer Village project, according to a report by Sylvania Police Lt. Tony A. Taylor.

Taylor said the man and the girl knew each other, but he doesn’t know if they planned to meet at the school that day. The incident did not involve violence and the girl was not abducted, he said. He declined to describe who witnessed or reported the crime. Hawkins is on parole but Taylor did not have details about his criminal record.


Taylor said school officials responded quickly and appropriately. “They did everything by the book,” Taylor said. “There’s no reason to believe that the schools are not perfectly safe.”

Taylor said he knows of no previous problems at the Pioneer Village project. For the last 16 years, eighth graders at the middle school have held the annual Pioneer Village, recreating historic Indian and pioneer settlements on the school campus. The village is different each year, but has included demonstrations of such things as cooking, rope-making, spinning, weaving, clothes washing and drying and hide tanning. The students construct and operate such things as a country store, schoolhouse and homestead cabin.

The public is invited to walk through the village and watch students perform demonstrations.

School Superintendent Whit Myers declined to comment about the case.

Schools are policed by deputies from the Screven County Sheriff’s Department, officers from the Sylvania Police Department and a school resource officer, said Sheriff Mike Kile. He also said the teachers take “wonderful care of the children out there. We have a great principal out there. The teachers won’t let anything happen to them.”

Kile said parents should not be afraid for their children’s safety at school. “I don’t think it was a forcible thing,” he said of the case.

Bus driver with gun

Also on Monday, the Screven County grand jury indicted a school bus driver who was accused of having a gun on board a school bus. James Atkins Jr., 46, of Savannah Highway, was arrested April 16. He was indicted on a charge of carrying weapons within school safety zones, at school functions or on school property.

Atkins had completed his route and returned to his house with only his granddaughter on board the bus when he got in an argument with a man who was waiting for him at his house, the sheriff’s department said. The reason for the argument was unclear. Video tape from the bus showed Atkins pulling the gun. The argument ended with no one seriously injured.

SCLC organizer forgery

Also indicted Monday was Bobby Lee Johnson Jr., who started a Screven County division of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference earlier this year. Johnson, 29, of Captola Road in Sylvania, was arrested May 22 and accused of trying to cash $3,600 in counterfeit money orders at Moats IGA.

Johnson was indicted Monday on four counts of first-degree forgery. Johnson, who started a new division of the SCLC in Screven County in January, recently had been promoted to vice president of the Savannah Coastal Chapter of the human rights organization.

Johnson was on probation for earlier charges. He was sentenced in Screven County in December 2001 to 10 year of probation for deposit account fraud, financial transaction card fraud and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced in Richmond County in December 2007 for five years probation for theft by receiving.

Friendship Road chase

Also indicted Monday was a Sylvania man who led police on a high-speed chase on Friendship Road before his car blew up and he was arrested on drug and traffic charges. Abraham Patterson, 30, was indicted for: possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, driving under the influence, driving a motor vehicle with invalid registration and possession of open container of alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle.

The six-mile chase on June 8 reached speeds of over 100 mph and Patterson’s car came close to hitting several other vehicles along the way.

Movie set chase

The grand jury also indicted James Christopher Thomas in a chase on Highway 301 in Sylvania on May 13 that resembled something from a movie set. Thomas’ car was going the wrong way on the highway and was airborne a couple of times before he got the car stuck on a concrete wall in front of Sylvania Place Apartments.

Thomas, 24, of Arnett Street, was indicted for: possession with intent to distribute marijuana; fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer; stop sign violation; reckless driving; no proof of insurance, driving without insurance; and safety belt violation.

Robber smacked with nut cracker

The grand jury also indicted a man accused of trying to rob 76-year-old Rosie Brower at her store near Oliver. Brower used a wooden nut cracker to smack the hand of the would-be thief. Harold Leon McDonald, 20, of Davis Street, is accused of trying to rob Brower at her store on Highway 17 and Halcyondale Road on May 27.

McDonald was indicted for robbery and two counts of aggravated assault.

Neighbor reports burglars

Two people indicted in three residential burglaries were caught because a vigilant neighbor reported seeing a car that was “lost or up to no good.” The man got a tag number, leading deputies to the arrests. Anthony Wayne Ferguson, 37, and Misty Lynn Maye, 31, both of Plantation Road, were indicted.

Ferguson was indicted for three counts of burglary and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Maye was indicted on three counts of burglary.

Car wash burglaries

Three Sylvania men were indicted in the burglary of two car washes in the city in August. Michael Donte Gibson, 19, Gilgal Road, was indicted for two counts of burglary. Davon Alfonso Williams, 19, Effingham Highway, and Jeffrey Lashan Burns, 18, Statesboro Highway, each were indicted for one count of burglary.

Officers recovered two of the coin boxes stolen during one of the burglaries, where the defendants said they had thrown them – on the roof of a Sylvania business. It was the latest in a string of arrests in burglaries of car washes and laundries in Screven and neighboring counties.

In other action, the grand jury indicted:
--      Bostic, Christopher David – possession of cocaine; possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
--      Byrd, John Ernest – habitual violator.
--      Doe, Frederick Leon – failure to update sex offender registration information.
--      Free, Willie – two counts entering an automobile with intent to commit theft.
--      Fulmer, Shannon Ben – possession of firearm by convicted felon.
--      Hunter, Kenregus Jamaree -- entering an automobile with intent to commit theft.
--      Johnson, Loverious -- possession of cocaine; possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
--      Jones, Kenny – burglary.
--      Keen, Berry Jayvan – aggravated assault; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; discharge of firearms on or near public highway.

--      Kelly, Tyrone Mandrell – possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; simple battery (family violence).
--      Lariscy, Scott Edwin – trafficking in methamphetamine; possession of a firearm or a knife during commission of certain crimes.

--      Oliver, Deven Ray – three counts of first-degree forgery; four counts of financial transaction card fraud.
--      Roberts, Tyrone Anthony – entering an automobile with intent to commit theft.
--      Simon, Calvin Anthony -- two counts entering an automobile with intent to commit theft.
--      Teston, Bonnie Lucy – two counts of burglary.
--      Waters, Lashunda Renea – habitual violator; stop sign violation.
--      Wilson, Casey Diane -- possession of cocaine; possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.