SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – The Civil Grand Jury’s decision to not press charges has closed the door on any criminal prosecution for the Savannah alderman. Some city leaders hope this allows Alderman Tony Thomas to bring focus back to serving his district while investigators say it’s still the beginning.
In the words of the grand jury, there was a “conclusion that there have been some illegal and outlandish wrong doings going on” in relation to the evidence against Thomas. However, state law says no charges can be brought.
“The bottom line is nobody ever recanted. There’s nobody that said this didn’t happen everybody went under oath and told what happened to them,” says John Perry who is a private investigator that gave testimony during the case.
He sat on the stand for three hours providing testimony. He alongside three of Thomas’ alleged victims were questioned. A majority of the jurors sided with their testimonies.
“My goal all along has been to bring this before a place where the kids could go under oath, where I could go under oath and tell what happened and right here fourteen of eighteen which is a staggering number,” says Perry.
Perry is not disappointed with the decision of the Grand Jury. In fact, he knew before entering the case, his personal findings from his investigations passed the statute of limitations time frame. The state statute of limitations basically asserts that the “pattern of grooming young males to become sexual partners” jurors were provided in terms of evidence, happened too long ago for legal action to take place and that was the sole reason no charges could be filed.
“A very difficult week for us, we live in a system of laws that talk about how evidence is submitted, how it’s evaluated and a grand jury listened to it and they found no cause to move forward,” says Alderman Van Johnson who has served on Savannah city council with Thomas for more than a decade now.
Perry talked to alleged victims following the ruling and he made it clear this will not mean their efforts were for nothing.
“This now opens the door for any of these victims that want to come forward with civil proceedings, now they don’t have to sit back and wait. the criminal side of things is done.”
On the city side of things, Thomas’ colleagues hope this does close the door on the disruptions and issues plaguing the alderman so that he can continue doing his work for the district.
“It kind of ends there. we have a city to run he has a district to serve and he needs to get up out the full time business the variety of issues that our city faces,” says Johnson.
Alderman Thomas did release a statement on social media following the ruling. You can read it here.