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Prosecutors drop molestation charges against former deputy

By Ed Brock

The Clayton County District Attorney's Office will not pursue three charges remaining against a former sheriff's deputy in connection with allegations he had molested a 3-year-old boy.

In July, a jury acquitted 39-year-old Kenneth Chappell of Jonesboro of two charges of child molestation but could not reach a decision on three other charges against him, aggravated child molestation, sodomy and sexual battery.

Only two members of the jury wanted to convict Chappell on those charges, according to officials.

District Attorney Bob Keller said his office has decided not to pursue the other three charges.

Chappell had been baby-sitting the boy, who was the son of a young woman he had known since she was a child, in May 2001 and the boy later made comments that led his mother to believe that Chappell had touched the boy's penis.

During the trial the boy, now 6, took the stand but said he did not remember Chappell or the incident. The other evidence in the case included a police interview with the boy in 2001.

During that interview the boy initially answered "No" when asked if Chappell had touched him but then when asked if Chappell had bit him, a comment the mother testified the boy had made to her, the boy said yes, pointed to the area of his penis and said "right here."

Only an audio tape was made of the interview.

Chappell's attorney Ricky Morris said his client is now waiting on a decision from the state's civil service board regarding Chappell's termination from the Clayton County Sheriff's Department where he had served for 10 years before the accusations were made.

"He has a right to a hearing to determine if he was terminated properly or not," Morris said.

Clayton County Sheriff Stanley Tuggle said he would wait for the civil service board's decision before deciding if he would rehire Chappell.