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Soldier charged with sex crimes

An Army National Guardsman, serving as a military police officer, has been arrested and charged with two sex crimes, said a Clayton County Sheriff’s spokesman.

Lt. Brian Crisp said Pfc. Matthew William Branyon, 20, of Valdez Drive in Rex, has been charged with statutory rape and sodomy. He is being held on $20,000 bond in the Clayton County Jail. His next court appearance is a preliminary hearing on March 13.

Crisp said the charges stem from a sexual relationship Branyon was allegedly having with a 15-year-old Mount Zion High School student.

“The information about the relationship originated at the school,” said Crisp. “Another student got wind of it and reported it Feb. 22, to the School Resource Officer.”

An arrest warrant was issued against Branyon Monday, and he was taken into custody the next day at his Rex home, said Crisp. Crisp said the investigation showed that the alleged sexual encounters took place at Branyon’s home, and not on school grounds.

The age of sexual consent in Georgia is 16.

According to his Facebook page, Branyon is a member of the National Guard’s 190th Military Police Co. He graduated from Henry County High School, where he earned top honors on the competitive shooting air rifle team.

Also, according to Facebook, Branyon updated his status in November from “single” to “in a relationship.”

— Kathy Jefcoats