Sexual assault charges against a former Model High School basketball coach were officially dismissed after a hearing earlier this week.
The felony charge against Matthew Douglas Blanton had been dead docketed in November — effectively set aside but not dismissed, said Blanton’s lawyer Steve Lanier.
However, the state had agreed to dismiss the charges against Blanton’s co-defendant, Daniel Lowell Brown, in October 2009. Both men were accused of having consensual sex with students over the age of 16.
“We just wanted him to be treated the same as Brown,” Lanier said.
The District Attorney’s office had been in the process of prosecuting both men until the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a lower court erred in an Augusta case by not allowing a teacher to use the victim’s consent as a defense to sexual assault.
A hearing was held Tuesday in Floyd County Superior Court in front of Judge J. Bryant Durham to address the issue and prosecutors agreed to drop the charges.
DA Leigh Patterson said the charges were effectively dropped against Blanton by placing the case on the dead docket — but the issue from her side was one of victim protection.
“We had it on the dead docket to keep a no contact provision in the case in order to keep this defendant away from the victim,” Patterson said. "Assistant District Attorney Steve Cox has made contact with the victim’s family and advised them of the procedures they can go through if they wish to further this no-contact condition."
Several bills are currently before the legislature that would remove the ability of a teacher, among other supervisory professions, to claim the victim’s consent as a defense in a criminal trial.