from 2016, I have no idea how I missed this.
Following what some believe was one of the most notorious child sexual assault cases in Georgia history, Douglas County was left with $25,000 worth of jewelry used to pay part of the penalty.
Now, county officials plan to sell the jewelry which was discovered recently after being stored in a safe for 28 years.
The board of commissioners June 7 voted to have the jewelry appraised and advertised for bid. Once the jewelry is sold the money will go into the county’s general fund.
The jewelry was part of a $100,000 fine paid by Louis Poetter after he pleaded guilty to 19 counts of sodomy in 1988, according to media accounts reprinted on a web site about the incidents titled “Anneewakee: My Story.”
Poetter founder of the Anneewakee Treatment Center for Emotionally Disturbed Youth in Douglasville, was arrested in 1986 on charges related to allegations of sexual misconduct with patients and financial wrongdoing within the nonprofit organization, the web site stated. A judge found him guilty and sentenced him in 1988 to 20 years in prison.
The restitution he paid included $100,000 in cash and $25,000 worth of jewelry, said Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner. Poetter also turned over nearly $5 million worth of land to the county, according to various sources.
Frank Winn, who served as Douglas County district attorney during the time of the case, said accepting land and jewelry in lieu of cash was an attempt to take back some of the riches Poetter and his family allegedly gained through these illegal acts.
“The concept was initially good,” Winn said. “Nothing about this case was usual. It was one of the major child abuse cases in the country.
“This is something that should have been settled a long time ago, but it is easy to put something off when you have no idea what to do with it,” Winn said.
Fortner said the 46 pieces of jewelry collected from Poetter includes loose stones, rings, necklaces and bracelets, and were found in a safe in the Clerk of Court’s office while it was being cleaned out recently. Superior Court Judge Robert James then ordered the jewels be turned over to the county so they could be disposed of lawfully, Fortner said.
County Commissioner Ann Guider said she did not think it was unusual to accept items such as land and jewelry in addition to money to pay for crimes during this time period.
Guider, who was county tax commissioner in 1988, also said the lengthy case was expensive for the county to prosecute and the jewels were considered valuable restitution at the time.
County Purchasing Director Bill Peacock said the sale of the jewelry is still being organized. However, the county has plans to have the jewelry appraised several times and offered for public bid online, he said.