Convictions overturned in Police sodomy case

James Edwin Watson conviction overturned. / Berrien County Jail

The Supreme Court of Georgia has reversed the convictions and prison sentence given to a Nashville, GA police officer for soliciting sodomy from a 17-year-old boy and for violating his oath of office.

James Edwin Watson's convictions and sentences for solicitations of sodomy have been reversed because the prosecution failed to prove that the proposed sexual acts were to be performed in public, in exchange for money or anything of commercial value, by force, or by one legally incapable of consenting to such acts.

In Georgia, the legal age of consent to sexual activity is 16.

The high court has however unanimously upheld as constitutional the Georgia statute that prohibits the solicitation of sodomy.

The court held that evidence did prove that the officer did violate the solicitation of sodomy statute by soliciting sodomy from another individual to perform or submit to a sexual act involving the sex organs of one and the mouth or anus of the other.

According to the record, on March 1, 2009, a 17-year-old was with friends when his friend's dog was attacked by a neighbor's dogs. Police were called, and James Edwin Watson, a patrol officer since 2008 with the Nashville Police Department in Berrien County, responded.

After dealing with the dog situation, Watson gave the teen a ride home.

The next day, Watson added the boy as a "friend" on Facebook and sent the boy a message saying they needed to discuss his "payment" for taking him home.

On March 4, the student was waiting to play at a high school tennis match when he read Watson's message on his Facebook page. The teen then sent a text message to Watson and asked what he had meant by "payment."

Watson texted back: "What about me and u getting 2gether sometime 2 have a little fun if u know what I mean."

The 17-year-old responded he was not "like that," to which Watson replied, "ok well if u change ur mind just let me know u may like it I didn't until I let someone talk me into it."

The boy then told his high school tennis coach what had been happening and showed her the text messages. She told the principal who called law enforcement.

On March 13, the young male student met with a GBI Special Agent and made two recorded telephone calls to Watson in the agent's presence.

In March 2011, a jury convicted James Watson of all four counts and he was sentenced to five years, to serve two in prison and the balance on probation.

His motion for new trial was denied, and Watson appealed to the state Supreme Court.