CONYERS - A man found guilty of inappropriately touching two teenagers during a pickup basketball game will spend the next year in the county jail.
Superior Court Judge David Irwin sentenced Gerald Louis Thompson on Wednesday to serve 12 months in jail followed by an additional 12 months in the work/release program on two counts of sexual battery.
Sexual battery is the intentional touching of someone in their sexual areas without their consent.
While the offenses were felonies, the judge sentenced Thompson on the charges as misdemeanors of a high and aggravating nature, which will require him to serve the 12 months in the county jail without the opportunity for early release.
Irwin found Thompson guilty of the charges following a bench trial in January but deferred sentencing to examine sentencing options.
Thompson's attorney, David LaMalva, asked the judge to consider the misdemeanor option. LaMalva said that even though Thompson was found guilty, the offenses did not rise to the level of sex offenses the General Assembly was considering when it passed highly restrictive laws governing where a convicted sex offender can live and work.
The charges stemmed from an incident in March 2007 when Thompson, 33, joined in a basketball game with five teenagers, ages 13 to 17. During the course of the game, he repeatedly grabbed their buttocks and groin area in a manner that was aggressive beyond the norms of the game.
Thompson was reportedly intoxicated at the time and none of the youngsters were injured.
The judge noted that alcohol played a key role in the event and agreed the offense was not at the high end of what would be sexual battery.
Thompson had no history of sex offense and by being sentenced as a misdemeanor, he will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Ric Latarski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.