DALTON — A former Northwest Whitfield High School coach and paraprofessional who was arrested in October for failing to report an alleged sexual assault of a juvenile at a private residence had the charges against him dropped, according to the District Attorney’s office.
District Attorney Bert Poston confirmed charges had been dismissed against Lamar Cofield, saying Cofield was not legally obligated to report the events of the party. Cofield’s attorney Sam Sanders said he was officially notified by the District Attorney’s office on Monday.
“Under Georgia law as interpreted a couple of years ago by the Georgia Su-preme Court, a person who is otherwise a mandated reporter and required to report abuse that comes to their attention cannot be prosecuted for failure to report when the information came to their attention outside of the context of the employment that makes them a mandated reporter,” Poston wrote in an email. “In other words, a teacher who learns at school that one of her students is being abused must report, but the same teacher that learns outside of the school that some other child is being abused is under no such duty. They can report and there are some civil protections if they do report, but they are not required to, nor can they be prosecuted for not reporting.”
Cofield was arrested in October after an investigation into an incident at a party at a private residence in July. According to a press release from Sheriff Scott Chitwood at the time of his arrest, Cofield was at a party and was told by a female student that she had been sexually assaulted.
Whitfield County Schools spokesman Eric Beavers said Cofield may re-apply to the system, but his position at Northwest has been filled since his resignation and his case before the Georgia Professional Standards Commission is still pending. The GPSC regulates certification of the state’s educators.