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Bond hearing set in sexual assault case

A 17-year-old, male, Jonesboro High School student was denied bond on Thursday for his alleged role in the reported sexual assault of a 15-year-old, female student at the school last week, his attorney has confirmed.

Brandon Ray Thompson, 17, is facing felony charges of aggravated sexual battery and false imprisonment, and a misdemeanor charge of child molestation for allegedly participating in the assault, court records show.

The warrantless affidavit for Thompson's arrest states that he and a 15-year-old, male student sexually assaulted a 15-year-old, female student at Jonesboro High School on March 3, at 8:30 a.m. The affidavit alleges that Thompson "did use his hand to rub the intimate parts" of the female student's body.

Online court records show that bail was set for Thompson at a total of $15,000 for the child molestation and false imprisonment charges on March 4, but they also show that bond was denied on the aggravated sexual assault charge at the time.

One of Thompson's attorneys, Jewel Scott, said she and her law partner, John M. Turner, tried again to get bond set on the aggravated sexual assault during a preliminary hearing, on Thursday, but were unsuccessful. Scott said she and Turner were added as Thompson's attorneys on Thursday.

"We had requested bond be set today [Thursday], but that was denied," Scott said. "So, a bond hearing has been set for next week."

That hearing is scheduled for March 18, at 8 a.m., in Clayton County Magistrate Court, online court records show. Scott added that, after the hearing takes place, the case will go to Clayton County Superior Court, and the county's District Attorney's Office will begin prosecuting Thompson.

The warrantless arrest affidavit for Thompson's arrest states that the case of the 15-year-old, male student, who also allegedly participated in the sexual assault, is being handled in Clayton County Juvenile Court.

Clayton County Police Detective Joanne Southerland wrote, in her warrantless affidavit for Thompson's arrest, that the victim protested the assault as it took place. "The victim reported she tried to get away many times and said ‘NO' and ‘Stop,' " the detective wrote.

Southerland wrote that Thompson was interviewed police, and "admitted they ‘felt her up' when she said, no, and they continued." The detective added that the incident was caught a video camera at the school.

The warrantless arrest affidavit shows that Thompson was arrested four-and-a-half hours after the alleged assault took place. Southerland wrote in her affidavit that he provided police with a written statement, and a letter apologizing for the incident. The 15-year-old male involved in the incident was also arrested.

Scott said the incident is alleged to have happened in a stairway at the school, between classes, with other students walking past Thompson, the 15-year-old male, and the 15-year-old, female victim as the alleged assault took place. The attorney said she and Turner have not yet had a chance to review Thompson's statement to police, or his apology letter.

She said she has questions about how the incident allegedly took place.

"What they [police] claim they saw on the video is that they [Thompson and the 15-year-old, male student] restrained the young girl, and there were students walking as the incident occurred," Scott said. "Well, did she make a cry out to anybody? That is the question I have, but during our questioning [of police at the preliminary hearing], we did not seem to get an answer."

School System Spokesman Charles White confirmed that the three teenagers connected to the incident were students at the school, and that school officials communicated with Jonesboro High School parents about the incident after it happened. He deferred further comment, however, to an official district statement on the matter, citing a federal law that prohibits school officials from discussing student records.

The school district's written statement said : "School officials cooperated fully with Clayton County Police in their investigation into the incident. School administrators, following established procedure, have dealt with each student in an appropriate manner. To comment further would be inappropriate at this time."