Charges dropped in Bell's battery case

By Ed Brock

A Fulton County official has dropped a battery charge against Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell in which a College Park waitress accused Bell of sucking on her neck.

Carmen Smith, solicitor general for Fulton County, said she dismissed the misdemeanor charge on Feb. 1 because there was "insufficient evidence to go forward." At a May 28, 2004 probable cause hearing Daphne Michelle Wynn testified that on the evening of April 7 Bell was at the Feed Store Restaurant and Bar where she works.

At the time Bell was a candidate for commission chairman and 29-year-old Wynn said she had met him only once before at the restaurant.

When Bell was leaving the restaurant, Wynn said, he approached her.

"At that time he hugged me and pulled me toward him and sucked my neck," Wynn said. "I pushed him away and said 'Hey, don't do that!'"

Bell denied the charges at the time, saying he was shocked by the accusation. He could not be reached for comment on the charge being dropped.

Wynn said she had been calling Smith's office repeatedly to check on the progress of the case but the solicitor never contacted her. She was surprised to hear that the charge had been dropped.

"I had no idea," Wynn said. "The last I heard was they were behind in their paper work, and that was in November."

Wynn said she's sticking with her story and the public attention she's gained from the case has been "humiliating to say the least."

"I plan to investigate ... I don't understand how they can reach a decision without talking to the people involved," Wynn said. "I need some resolution."

Wynn's attorney for the hearing, Kirby Clements Jr., also said he was surprised by the solicitor general's decision not to move forward with the case.

"Given the cases they've charged people with, I'm surprised by that," Clements said. "Well I'm not surprised, but I'm shocked."

Kirby said he presented pictures of a bruise on Wynn's neck and had witnesses who testified the incident occurred.

"What else do you need?" Kirby said.